As soon as Aaron laid his eyes on the wooden plank that was placed at the top of a large gate, this name appeared in his head.
It had come in his way when he had been in the process of reaching that spot where that incredibly aromatic smell was coming from, so he had paused to see what it was.
Huh? Weren't those just strange scratches? Why did this name come into his mind as soon as he ran his eyes over them?
Stopping on the spot, he scratched the mop of hair on his head while wondering how this had happened.
Feeling a sharp prick in his foot, Aaron looked down to see the impatient eyes of his closest and only companion, Woof.
In the frigid blue of the husky's eyes, there was impatience and irritation at its friend who always got sidetracked in this way whenever he saw something interesting.
8 years ago, it had found him in a large pile of poo. It had hesitated whether to go forward and answer his cries for help, as from the smell, it had understood that that poo belonged to one of the most dangerous predators in the forest: the Hundred-Spikes Bear. As it was capable of shooting the spikes on its back and hands with surprising speed, no beast that wasn't confident in its defense ever dared to go into its territory.
Yet, those cries reminded the husky of its children that had been killed by a Flame-Tongued Viper just days ago.
So, it had dug out that ball, from which this weak, 2-legged being had emerged.
That being had started to spout sounds which it didn't understand, but it could tell that he was malnourished, and close to death.
Thus, using its mouth to catch hold of the white-colored garment he was wearing, it hoisted him on its back.
The moment his hand touched the husky's body, it had felt his thoughts: yes, he was very, very, hungry.
The two rode away, covered in feces, and what followed was years of surviving together in the dangerous forest where a single moment of relaxation might lead to death.
Finally, the husky had gotten wind of this smell, which had led them to a clearing with odd structures.
This travel had gone on for a day, so the husky was starving.
Yet, this damn guy whom it always had to save was delaying them here?!
"All right, fine! Let's go!"
Focusing on the smell again, Aaron said this, which made Woof nod and go ahead.
It was scouting for danger.
In its eyes, he had seen that his hair needed washing again.
His face was covered in grime, and his clothes were caked with dirt and mud, just like his hair. They were torn in many places, but they still surprisingly clung to his skin and protected him from the elements despite the years of abuse they had been through.
He was almost 6 feet tall, or, by the measure he used in the forest, he was almost as tall as a mature 4-Armed Gorilla.
Slinking forward in a slouched position so that he could spring to either side in case there was a threat, Aaron followed Woof and approached the gate.
However, a few moments later, both he and the husky could only stop and stare at the figure which they could now see standing on top of a wooden structure.
He was…another 2-legged creature, just like Aaron.
Skin with no fur or scales for protection, muscles that definitely had no strength, and a body with no special features which would give it an edge for attack or defense.
All in all, it was a creature unfit to live in this age.
At least, that was Woof's opinion, so it was pretty shocking to see another member of Aaron's species.
Turning around, it saw that Aaron was just as shocked as it was.
"Halt! Is that your Tera, kid? Where are you from?"
These words whose meaning he somehow understood startled Aaron out of his reverie.
He…wasn't the only member of his species in this world?!
Aaron didn't know what to feel. Suddenly, a major assumption of his about the world had been shattered, so he just stood there dumbly.
Years ago, he had been helped out of that very smelly pile by Woof, whom he had simply named so because of the sound it made. Together, they had lived and fought their way through the jungle, always looking for a place where they could live safely.
He had no memories of anything before that point, except for two sentences that he had found within his mind.
One told him that his name was Aaron.
And the other…gave him a clue with which he might be able to find out who he was.
Yet, all of his time so far had been spent in the struggle to not find himself in the stomach of some large beast who wanted to try a new flavor of meat.
Suddenly, the sun that had been hidden by that wooden plank appeared in Aaron's wide open eyes, making him squint and unconsciously bob his head.
To the guard on the watch-post, it looked like a nod that was accompanied by the relief of reaching a safe place.
"All right, drag your butt in. You must be from some small gathering. Orientation starts in 10 minutes, so hurry over to the largest building you see inside."
Even as Aaron was just about to comprehend what the second member of his species that he had ever met in his life said, both he and Woof zeroed in on the source of the smell that had led them here.
It was a large plate held in the hands of another of his species, who seemed different in some ways.
Yet, Aaron's full focus was on the plate, which held 50 round, brown balls that were giving off that scent.
Slowly, he turned his head toward Woof, and saw that it was ready to spring forward.
No! This time, he would be the one eating more!
At this moment, the day guard of Skystead Hamlet saw the strangest sight of his life.
With a leap forward, both the large, wolf-like dog and the dirty kid whom he had just spoken to ran on all fours toward Mrs. Ernst, who was carrying the freshly baked buns which were supposed to be snacks for those taking part in the Orientation.
The dog reached first, but the kid who had reached a surprising speed by using his arms to push himself forward stretched out his hand and swept away one of the legs of the dog, which made it roll into a ball and careen away.
With an expression of triumph, the kid tried to snatch away the plate but it fell due to his momentum.
Skidding to a halt, he started stuffing his mouth full of bread without caring that it had fallen on the floor while sheer delight shone in his eyes.
The dog came back and started to grab a few for itself to wolf down, but a fight ensued. The kid kept kicking the dog away from the buns, repeatedly stuffing more and more into his mouth until it was completely full.
This commotion attracted the attention of the entire hamlet, yet, the two seemed oblivious.
Still fighting, they finished the buns, and the kids who had gathered even kept count and betted on who would eat more.
The dog was defeated, which made some cheer, while others felt sorry for it due to its exceptionally cute appearance, even though it was snarling with anger at the moment.
After finishing away even the bread crumbs on the grassy ground, Aaron finally looked up to see the audience he had gathered.
He had sensed them coming, but as he felt no threat, he had prioritized the food, which was tastier than anything he had eaten so far, ever.
Woof also looked around, before moving close to Aaron and nudging his leg.
The thought it sent made Aaron exclaim something in an irritated tone, while shocked gasps appeared all around when the others understood the meaning of his words.
"What do you mean by 'find a female to mate with'? I don't want what happened with that female gorilla to repeat! You go find a mate yourself!"
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I'm an aspiring author who fell in love with writing the moment I wrote my first story.
Most Notable Work: World Domination System, an 800,000 word ongoing fantasy novel which can be found at https://www.webnovel.com/book/11413811606356705/World-Domination-System