It had been two days since his encounter with the Kaisha, and Aleran was sure, thanks to his new ability, that he was close to the edge of the forest. After the creatures that passed above his head two days ago, Aleran had not seen any other big animal. The only creatures in sight were the tiny bugs that were constantly biting him. The forest had become eerily quiet, allowing him to loosen up some tension
Thanks to this calm, Aleran was able to quicken the pace of his travel. Now, he was running near the river shore but not so close that he would be targeted by those weird rock things.
Aleran wanted to get out of the forest as fast as he could. Even with the inner qi supporting his body, he was starting to feel the void in his stomach and the dizziness in his head.
His body still burned energy like normal, only that now it could use inner qi to pass the threshold of what it could endure without food. So, he still needed food. The only thing inner qi could do was helping him moving as if nothing was wrong.
Aleran was somewhat afraid of eating some of these weird creatures. He didn't know if some were edible, or if the source qi had made them somehow toxic. But if he didn't find his way out soon, he will start hunting and eating them.
"I'm almost there." He had calculated the distance and was sure there was little left.
Soon, Aleran could hear sounds at the distance that contrasted with the now quiet forest. But The nature of these sounds made him frown. The first thing he heard was the booming sounds of loud explosions. Then, the myriad cries of different animals, some roaring, some whimpering, reached his ears. It sounded like a small war.
Frown deepening, Aleran quicken his movement again. And, after passing through a wall of undergrowth, he could see between the trees what was happening.
"People! Finally! Haha!" He sped up, even more, nearing the edge of the forest. What he saw was a war about to end. A war between men and beasts. This conflict was taking place in the plains, near the edge of the forest.
There were two distinct groups of men fighting together against a now diminished group of creatures. These creatures were of all kind. He first recognized the wolves that were just like the ones who pursued him. Then he saw some other creatures, there were lizard type creatures an even some bird types.
But the ones that grabbed his attention were a group of middle-sized monkeys. They had the face of a human with long noses but had less fur than a monkey. They looked like goblins with long tails and four arms. And the reason why they caught Aleran's attention was that he could tell these creatures were the ones that passed above him two days before. Their green fur that matched that of the leaves made them difficult to spot when they raced between the trees.
'This is where they were going with such a hurry?' They had obviously arrived here long before him. And, although they once were a large group, the ground was paved with the bodies of their kin, piled together with the bodies of other creatures. It seemed Aleran had arrived with the conflict near the end, in a clear victory for the humans.
Aleran's gaze then moved to those of his species. There was a glaring distinction between the two groups. The first group was clearly well equipped and well trained. They had full body armor, swords, shields, and even bows of good quality. Moreover, their average cultivation level was at the heaven opening, third phase.
While the one who seemed to be their leader was at the qi circulation level. The man was barking orders to everyone around. He was equipped with the same armor that, to Aleran, had a Chinese style in the chest and legs. And the shoulders, arms, and head were covered by armor that did not correspond with that style. Another thing that set him apart was his weapon. It was a long spiked chain that began curled around his arm and then extended in spirals around him. At the end of the chain were two small blades that looked like menacing claws.
Meanwhile, the other group was shabbier. With their pikes and hoes, they fought against the wild creatures protected only by their cotton clothing. They were following as best as they could the orders given by the man with the chain. And while the first group function like a well-oiled machine, this group functioned like an old, almost broken one. To Aleran, they looked like farmers and hunters that had been called to compensate for the lack of manpower.
He started to ponder how to approach these people. ' What lies should I spill to convince them I am not suspicious? Well, I have time to get my story straight. I don't want to get mixed in the fight, nor do I have the energy, so I will just wait till is over. I also need treatment for my wounds.
But as he was thinking, he heard a high pitched noise, closer than the rest of the roars and cries form battle. He turned left to see a small creature closing. It had big black eyes, chubby legs, and short tail, all covered in white scales. It was closing in with a comic wobbling typical of young pups.
Aleran gave an involuntary smile at the little creature that was smelling and looking at him with the curiosity and wonder that only newborns had. " Hey, little fella, you shouldn't be here it's dan-"
"Grrrr" He didn't get to finish his warning when a huge shadow covered him from behind. The low growl made his body vibrate with it.
"Kacha." Without turning around, he launched his body to his left, just in time to avoid a fierce mouth filled with huge teeth that would have torn his body in half.
After a quick roll on the ground, Aleran stood up to see what was it that almost killed him. A bigger version of the small creature, clearly its parent was standing opposite of him. Unlike the cub, this one had a black horn that contrasted with its scaly white body.
This angry parent was as big as an elephant, with a slender body and a long tail. And as Aleran just found out, despite their size, they were extremely stealthy when they moved.
Now, the beast was between him and his fellow humans. 'It's too big, I can't get close enough to electrocute it. And what is worst is that I don't know if I have enough qi to do it either way. I should have rested and meditated, What an idiot.'
But Aleran was not afraid of getting lost in the forest anymore, so he turned around ready to escape between the trees. Contrary to what he thought, the creature moved gracefully between the trees and bushes. And those trees it didn't avoid, where just bent or uprooted with brute strength. Very soon, The beast was upon him forcing Aleran to dodge one of its huge paws.
'Damn! I can't even escape.' He knew that turning his back to the creature again would be pushing his luck.
"There's a civilian coming from the forest!" Kindrav heard the loud report of one of the soldiers while he was aiming with his bow. But right now he could not deviate his eyes from his target.
As one of the few villagers with some cultivation, he was tasked to help the army in repelling the beast tide. After the collision between the two heavenly beasts in the southern mountain range, the rest of the creatures started running away from the forest.
As the powerful creatures near the mountains ran towards the forest, the ones living there had no other choice but to run outside the forest. This was the start of a chain reaction that ended in a beast tide.
Normally the monoliths built a few miles away from here where enough to scare them away. But in these special circumstances, they had no other choice but to risk going out of the forest.
'Woosh' Kindrav fired the arrow, hitting squarely into one of the bird monsters they called source ravens. They could use source qi to gain sudden bursts of speed when flying. Making them a troublesome lot when they used that skill to attack or dodge.
Having taken down one of the few birds left he move his gaze at the new arrival. It was a boy of his age, a little younger maybe. He had long blond hair, he was probably good looking, but he was in a miserable state. With his shirt and pants ragged, without shoes and injured in various places he looked even worse than a bum.
He could see him standing near the treeline and looking down at a small creature. 'What the hell are you doing idiot, run!' It was horrible seeing how the man didn't even notice the huge white hunter approaching.
Some of his fellow villagers were trying to warn him, but the roars of the beasts and the sound of fighting drowned their voices. Thankfully, the white hunter wanted to protect his cub, so it let out a roar to make it back off, only then attacked. That gave him the time to run away. Apparently, the guy was a cultivator because he dodged something a normal man couldn't.
Kindrav shook his head. 'You only prolonged your life for a few seconds.' The white hunter was an earth level creature. A low leveled one? Perhaps. But it was something only those at the qi circulation mid phase could hope to defeat.
"Hey, you! Barbarian trash, come here!" The mocking voice of the man in charge pulled him out of his thoughts. Kindrav had a bad feeling but could do nothing about it.
With a light trot, he ended in front of the Captain who was looking at him with disgust. It was not a new thing for Kindrav, with the exception of those in his village everyone else treated him like this.
There was nothing about his appearance that could betray him as a barbarian. He had deep black hair and eyes just as black that were always half closed, giving the feeling that he was always tired or bored. He had a handsome face that, although it wasn't exceptional, it was passable.
But, there was one thing that only those barbarians had, It was a series of rings in his ears. They had a few characteristic patterns that only barbarians used. It may seem like a small detail, but it was the signature of the barbarians.
Everybody hated them, the barbarians were known for their pillage and plunder. But that was a common misconception, there were hundreds of tribes living on the mountains, and all of them had been grouped together as barbarians. Most of those living in the mountains were just hunters that lived by the day, making that generalization a huge injustice for them.
He could get rid of the rings if he wanted, but they were the only thing he had left from his parents. Kindrav preferred to be treated like a pest than taking off those rings.
"Yes, Captain?" He said swallowing his displeasure for the racist man.
"As someone who is momentarily under the army's command, you have the duty to protect normal civilians. Go and help the civilian being attacked by the white hunter." The captain pointed at the ragged boy that was barely dodging the fierce attacks.
Kindrav was flabbergasted, that was insane. "Sir, with all due respect, I am not qualified to face that beast. It would be suicide."
"He's right sir if you have to send someone, please, send me." A middle-aged man came running from behind. Kindrav looked at the village chief, he was a heavenly opening stage second phase, lower than him. Yet, here he was trying to protect him, like always. It was thanks to him that Kindravl could live in Vast sky village.
"No, it is suicide even if you send the whole village. Please, Captain." Kindrav didn't want to let the chief go instead of him.
"Enough! This is an order! With a powerful voice, the captain stopped their complaints. "We are in a state of emergency, and as the commanding officer in charge of this region, I can employ the strength of the men capable of fighting in the area." Then he came closer to Kindrav. "You know, I also have the right to punish those who refuse to follow my orders. I can even raise the taxes of your whole village under the charges of obstruction."
"Now. You go there alone. Do you hear me? Obey!" He said with a smirk on his face and pointing at the faraway monster.
"Sir, could you please, in your great mercy, grant him at least a suitable weapon?" Seeing the unwavering gaze of the captain, the middle-aged man tried to raise the chances of Kindrav's survival.
Looking at the middle age man, the captain thought for a moment and nodded. He made one of his soldiers give Kindrav a military bow, made of the famous black wood, and a good quality sword. Then he looked at the chief. "If he loses the bow and the sword your village will have to pay them." Those were expensive items that even the whole village would be hard pressed to pay.
And like that, Kindrav was forced to run toward his death. He was generally a lazy guy that tried to avoid hard work, but when there were two things that could make him the most active person. The first was finding the culprit for his parent's death. And the second was the village that took him in when he had nothing.
'Fuck, I would have preferred armor instead of this sword and bow. I will never be able to get close enough to use the sword and stay alive.'
As he ran, he aimed at the beast, but the boy had lured it farther into the trees. 'I've got to get a little closer.' After avoiding some other creatures and jumping over the dead bodies of some other ones, he made it to the trees.
He climbed the trees and went further inside. After looking for the right place, he finally had a clear shot. The problem was that the scales of the creature were known to be as hard as steel. As an earthly rank creature, it had fused with the source qi and had its enhanced.
Kindrav got in position over the branch of a tree and aimed again, this time he had no obstacles. From this new point of view, he could see that the beast was injured. Large drops of blood fell from under its belly. 'It probably entered a conflict with some other creature that was forced to move due to the heavenly beasts clashing.'
He slowly lifted the bow, nocked an arrow and pulled. The bow was truly good, it was light, and it could support more tension, as expected of the magical blackwood. He then let go of the string. 'This may be suicide, but at least you will remember me every time you take a shit.'
"Swoosh" It was the fastest arrow Kindrav had ever shot. With an uncanny angle, it avoided the moving tail and embedded itself right into the animal's rear.
"Grrraaaaaa." A loud roar of pain escaped from the white hunter. Exploding in rage, it turned several times searching for the offender. It may have its whole body protected, but there was a small hole under his tail that could not be sealed under scales.
Kindrav tried to hide soon after seeing his blow was successful at distracting the beast. He was obviously not trying to kill it, his plan was to distract the beast long enough for the boy to run.
Half of the mission was complete, the boy had climbed over a tree, and the beast was rampaging about trying to find Kindrav. The other half was just getting back alive.
"Boom!" With that sound, the tree Kindrav was using started to tilt over. ' Shit! It found me.'
He jumped, going for another tree, but the white hunter, injured and all, moved after him. It climbed the tree that was falling with two fast jumps, and with the last one, it swiped its paws at him.
"Krack." With a fast reaction, Kindrav used his sword to block the attack. The blade showed a few cracks, and he was sent flying like a cannonball.
"Boom." Another tree stopped his flight a few meters away.
Kindrav tried to reincorporate as fast as he could, he knew the beast won't let him rest. Sadly, he only got the time to roll on the floor to avoid another attack of the beast's claws. A deep impression of the paw was left where he was before. But the beast continued with its assault whipping its tail at the rolling human.
Again, Kindrav barely dodged, but he couldn't get the time to get up and run. It was that moment when he felt trapped, that a shadow dropped from one of the trees and into the white hunter's back.
A soon as the shadow touched its back, the creature started to tremble in a creepy way and fall sideways. "Now! Its belly is injured, stab it!" From somewhere Kindrav heard a voice. And without even thinking, he grabbed his sword full of cracks and raced toward the fallen creature. He dodged the trembling limbs, and there he found it, a large wound in the middle of the belly that looked like a stab injury. He had to hurry, the limbs were moving erratically, and if one hit him, he would be seriously injured.
Using as much strength as was possible, he stabbed his sword on the wound, and once inside he ran the blade across its abdomen. A fountain of blood came out, together with some other entrails.
"Graaa... aaaa..a" With a last roar, the beast died, and its body stopped convulsing.
"Hahahahahaha! Yessss!" Unlike his usual cool and relaxed character, Kindrav could not stop himself from cheering out loud. He had just killed a fucking earthly beast, something a qi circulation cultivator at the middle stage could barely match.
Yes, the beast was injured, but that didn't make this achievement any less impressive. Soaked in shiny red blood, Kindrav circled the body to see his partner in this feat.
There he was, a boy even younger than him. He was injured from head to toe and clearly tired. But somehow this boy had jumped on the back of the beast and made something that left it helpless. Now that he review the situation in his mind, his excitement went down a little. Whatever the boy did was the decisive factor that not only helped to kill the beast but also saved his life.
No matter what, Kindrav was still very proud of the feat. He went to the boy that was still on the ground, shaking and gasping, and extended his hand. " Here, let me help you." The boy still gasping nodded and grabbed his hand.
With his help, the boy managed to stand up supporting himself with the dead body of the white hunter. He looked at him with piercing blue eyes and said. " Thanks for coming to my rescue, that was one of the close ones."
' One of?' Kindrav asked himself, but seeing the body of the boy he understood. 'He must have braved many dangers.' " I should be the one thanking you, you saved my life. How did you make it convulse like that?"
"Oh, that? Just a special trick of mine." Said the boy with a big smile. Kindrav didn't really care how he did it, he only asked because he was impressed but he wouldn't peer into other secrets. The only thing he needed to know was that the boy instead of running away stayed and fought with him.
"Well, whatever it was, we just did something amazing ." He said pointing at the dead beast. " Wait until I rub this on his face. Ahh just imagining that asshole's face I feel refreshed. Sorry, I let myself get carried away. Come, you need treatment, and I need to compensate you for saving my life."
Aleran just nodded, he really needed help. "Thank you, I would appreciate that."
"Let's take you to the village, the beast tide is almost over, and the army can take care of it by themselves. You will also be a good excuse to bring some of the men back to the village, so thanks again hehe." As if suddenly remembering something he clapped his palms and said. "Oh, right I didn't ask for your name. I'm Kindrav Praux."
"I'm Aleran, nice to meet you." Aleran knew from Zarasen that his name was not uncommon, but his last name would give away his identity too easily. Just in case the Silver Moon kingdom continued the search, he would think of a good last name. For that, he needed to know more about the common names of this world. He couldn't walk around calling himself Aleran Hartman. Well maybe he could, but he didn't know. He had to investigate if the names and last names were something strict or something that didn't matter for the people of this world.
"Nice to meet you." The battle had dragged them even deeper into the forest, but not so far that they would be lost. So, lending his shoulder to help Aleran, that was now with almost zero qi, Kindrav started to guide him towards the outside.
Turning his head one last time to see the body Aleran was surprised. 'So that's why the east stopped attacking me. No wonder, anyone would lose his mind at that.' He turned his head again to look at the guy at his side. " You shot an arrow at his ass?"
Nodding calmly, Kindrav answered. " Mn, that was an insightful move on my part." He was clearly proud of that.
"Hahaha, nice." Aleran already had a good impression of this guy.