Slowly, both the husky and the human made their way toward the spot where the large viper had just disappeared from.
After reaching it, they started to circle the area, wondering whether it could have burrowed into the ground…or done something which didn't completely defy common sense.
They had seen a lot of strange monsters and attacks in the forest, but this was their first time seeing something so incredible. The thing could have easily weighed 200 Kilograms! How the heck could it just vanish like that?
Hearing someone chuckling behind him, Aaron turned around to find Mrs. Ernst, who had walked forward.
"Curious, aren't we? Come on. Let's get to the orientation. They'll explain about this, too, there. Did you like the buns, by the way?"
Despite the fact that they had devoured all of that food, there was no anger in Mrs. Ernst's tone.
Instead, she only had a warm expression on her face which made Aaron feel something he couldn't understand.
Why…did it feel as though he shouldn't have done that?
Back in the forest, he had never felt something like this, as the situation was always 'kill or be killed'.
Before he could think more on the matter, Mrs. Ernst reached forward to pat his head, and this time, Aaron didn't react like before. He still became more alert, ready to move and roll backward if needed, but he didn't spring away like the last time.
Mrs. Ernst was almost as stocky as her husband, but she didn't look overweight at all. Instead, it appeared that her body itself was more or less thickset.
She was wearing a green dress over which she had draped an apron, which had stains of flour on it.
The moment she touched his head, the smell coming from Aaron finally hit her.
Frowning, she said, "You haven't bathed in ages, right? Come on. We have time for a quick shower before we reach the spot."
Saying so, Mrs. Ernst led the way, causing both Aaron and the husky to follow.
Woof still kept looking around suspiciously, as if it was sure that some or the other threat might be hiding behind one of the wooden structures.
Aaron, on the other hand, paid attention to the structures and people.
Each structure looked almost the same: there was a rectangular base, over which a roof made of two angled wooden planks was present. The empty area between the top part and the bottom part were unique for each house: although they were also filled with wooden plans, the decorations on each were different. Some had placed flowers, while others had carved words into the area.
Names like these were present on the largest structures, inside which Aaron spotted tens of people.
Everything was fascinating, but his mind was still hung on the case of the disappearing viper and the 'Path to the Stars'.
After a few seconds, they reached a spot where a row of wooden stalls was present, each having enough space for a man or woman to stand in.
Opening one of the doors, Mrs. Ernst nodded while smiling, which made Aaron cautiously step inside as it was one of the most dangerous places anyone could be in: a place with only one entrance and one exit.
As soon as he entered, Mrs. Ernst pulled a branch-like lever on the side, which made it rain.
No, it wasn't raining. Above him, there was a metallic circle with holes. Water streamed through the holes, falling on him and making him think it was rain.
"Clean yourself well. Use the green leaves to scrub your skin like this."
On a small pedestal in the corner, a bunch of palm-sized green leaves had been placed. Picking one up, Mrs. Ernst demonstrated the 'scrubbing'.
Seeing Aaron nod, she went out and closed the door.
Woof was just outside the door, and it shot a look toward Aaron as if to say that it would be guarding the door.
Everything was strange for it, too, but all it cared right now was that it was full, and that there were more places with great aromas nearby. So, as there seemed to be no danger, staying might not be a bad idea.
A few minutes later, Aaron walked out, and Woof almost didn't recognize him.
He was wearing the same torn white clothes, but his skin shone in the sun healthily.
His face had the most changes. His features, which were indiscernible before due to the grime, were now apparent.
High cheekbones, a straight nose, sharp chin, and keen eyes.
His brown hair was slightly curly, and it fell to his shoulders.
Aaron didn't feel that much different. The leaves had been surprisingly useful in wiping away the layers of dirt, so he remarked that it felt good to not stink.
Just when he was walking toward Miss. Ernst, three species of his race who looked slightly dissimilar to him stared at him and started…giggling between each other.
"Girls, I see you dallying around and gossiping about guys again, I'll make sure you're married before you know it."
Hearing this, serious expressions came on their faces while they ran to three stalls and closed the doors before shooting one last look at Aaron.
Putting everything else out of his mind, Aaron looked forward to finding answers and followed Mrs. Ernst to a structure that looked different than the rest.
Instead of a rectangle with two angled planks joined together on top, this one had multiple rectangles stacked together.
It was the tallest building all around, with at least 3 stacks above which there was even a metallic roof.
Marveling at this artificial structure for a moment, Aaron followed Mrs. Ernst inside the door, where he found a large, open room with 15 people inside.
Aaron was already numb due to all the shocks, so he switched off his mind and just prepared to listen. Often, this was what he used to do when he needed to singlemindedly focus on something, such as running for his life from a Hundred-Spiked Bear which had been angry that someone entered its territory and rummaged around in its feces.
Most of the people inside were children, and funnily enough, on seeing the cute husky, they ran toward it which made Woof spring back with caution.
This amused them, as they felt that the dog wanted to play with them.
Woof could have chomped down and killed any of the little two-legged things in front of it, but it controlled itself for Aaron's sake. It knew that killing a member of a species was definitely not a good idea if they wanted to stay at that species' abode.
So, it could only haplessly be chased around the room, while the laughing little things ran after it.
Finally, the other mature woman in the room clapped her hands and said, "Children, assemble. Let's start the orientation."
She had been chatting with Mrs. Ernst till now, who had been pointing at Aaron and explaining something.
Aaron had been watching amusedly while his friend was being chased, but when the woman called out to them, they walked to her side with utmost obedience.
"Good. Now, can I know your name, young man?", she asked.
Her features looked quite similar to Mrs. Ernst, and she was wearing a blue shirt which was similar to his.
"Good! Hello, Aaron! My name is Jenny. Come on over."
Seeing her wave her hand, Aaron nodded and walked over.
They were standing near the door, where a rectangular area depicted a blue ball with many red spots.
"This is our planet: The Earth. 200 years ago, at the peak of the industrial age, an apocalypse was caused due to reasons that we do not yet know. Some say that someone, or something, caused all the nuclear bombs in the world to go off at once. However, that doesn't explain the core of the earth, itself, rupturing like the yolk of an egg and reaching toward the surface which caused tectonic changes the likes of which had never been seen before. Billions were killed by the earthquakes, storms, and tsunamis. It took decades for all the catastrophic effects to die down and stop. When the remaining humans crawled out of the havens that they had used to wait for the cataclysm to pass, they realized that a new species had been born: Teras."
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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