Satoshi stared wide-eyed at the green fields that extended to as far a land as he could lay his eyes on.
The four beastkins and Satoshi had travelled for a whole another day and reached here the morning after. They had encountered only a couple more fights thanks to Satoshi's low tolerance. After three more clashes were dealt with in the same way as the first, Satoshi decided he had seen enough and he'd rather not waste even those few minutes. He drove off any beast that came into a fifty-meter radius from them. And he did that while making sure no sound reached the rabbit-ranger. The beastkin party may have figured out that something was amiss when they didn't encounter a single beast for the rest of the day, but Satoshi had no way of knowing since he didn't speak their language. He just observed them from behind with not a word exchanged.
The crop fields meant civilization. The large crop fields meant a larger civilization. Satoshi was practically giddy at the thought of seeing more animal-people. He just hoped there wouldn’t be any of those bipedal lizards.
Satoshi wanted to fly up in the sky to look around the place but had to refrain from doing so, so he just continued following the party of beastkins through the crops. They would occasionally come across the owners of the fields where the leader would trade them small pieces of meat for ready to eat grains or vegetables. He handed some to Satoshi as well, which he greedily accepted and gobbled it all down.
(I can definitely get used to eating in this world.)
He also rarely spotted soldier-looking people patrolling around. He figured they were there to keep the wild away from the crops.
(These four might be going in the forest for money but it helps keep balance.)
Educated in modern society, Satoshi could see the holistic picture at play. Hunters, like the four he followed, go into the woods to gather raw materials and meat. While this would be traded for other materials, maybe even some sort of currency that he was yet to see, it would not only bring consumables and potential for production into the market, it would keep the wildlife in check. With the few and sparse patrols of the soldiers, it was doubtful if attacks from the beasts could really be repelled unless the attacks were very infrequent. But this was all under the assumption that there were no other circumstances in play, like the farmers being strong enough to repel the beasts themselves, or the soldiers had some special detection abilities, or there was some other common sense that he just couldn’t imagine.
(Information, oh information. Wherefore art thou, information?)
Earlier he would get irritated at his lack of information but now he had come to terms with it. It was only a matter of time before he could make sense of how this world works. Understandably, it could take years or even decades, but it was only a matter of time…
(Uh. No, let's hurry up.)
Having walked for a few more hours, the crop fields quickly got replaced with a slum-like area. The place was smelly, with heaps of garbage accumulating in places and open drainage canals. The people wore ragged clothes and there was the smell of disease in the air. Animal-children, young with thin physiques and a variety of ears and tails played in the garbage, while the older ones rummaged through to find anything valuable. On either side, were wooden houses once again, but these were visibly in much worse a condition than Satoshi had seen. Even the ones in the wolf-men’s village were better, considerably so. The ones in front of him at the moment were small, shabby with broken roofs and doors.
“Hahahaha.. Ehjum dakap!”
Two children ran past them, laughing while another chased after them in similar glee. Satoshi found the scene interesting but could not muster any other sentiments towards it.
Satoshi noticed that the party of beastkins did not attempt to make contact with anyone here, unlike in the fields. In fact, they seemed to be a bit wary with precautionary movements. He also noticed the occasional adult beastman giving them a distasteful look but there were no confrontations. Except, Satoshi could detect that something was wrong. He was starting to detect a whole lot of presences around them, yet almost none were in plain sight. And from the looks of it, the rabbit woman had figured out too as she said something to the leader and they sped up their pace of walking.
Satoshi considered for a moment. The party of four in front of him were noticeably well-trained and well-equipped, yet the situation was clearly evolving where thugs could attack at any moment.
(It's those bags.)
Each member of the party had on their back a bag stuffed to the brim with potentially valuable materials.
(There are four of them and I estimate around 20 or so thugs. Well, there's actually 5 of us, but I'm not getting involved now that they have kindly led me to civilization.)
They were now jogging their way forward and Satoshi was starting to make out occasional shadows from both sides closing in.
(The bags are slowing them down and will reduce their fighting capabilities.)
That might have been what the thugs were aiming at when going against trained adventures. Ganging up with numbers while the opponents could not fight at their full potential does make for an attractive expedition.
(Let’s see how they deal with this.)
Right then, a dagger came zooming towards the leader from the right but missed him.
The leader immediately shouted something towards the rest of his team and as expected of trained adventurers, they instantly sped up to their fastest pace they could manage with the luggage on their backs.
“Kur, Ik ama iret!”
Now even the thugs had forgone all semblances of stealth and were openly running behind them, shouting what Satoshi assumed were curses and demands to stop. Even without explicitly looking back, he knew there were about a dozen of them behind them but being an otherworlder, curiosity got the better of him and he looked back. And he was glad he looked back, as he watched one of the thugs pull back to throw a dagger with him, being on the behind, as the target.
Satoshi panicked as he hastily erected a barrier of wind around him, deflecting the dagger just in the nick of time. But in his haste, his concentration on his fly-running got disrupted as he tumbled towards the ground. He barely managed to break his fall using a burst of air as a cushion but he found it hard to regain his balance, his missing leg not helping his predicament any.
He put his hands on this ground, the sheer speed of his movement and the rough ground tearing his skin apart. But it gave his body enough of a push to balance himself.
Concentrating his detection in a small area around him, he let the wind again take control of his movements as he deflected two more daggers blindly.
Channelling his breathing ability to the max, he calmed his head as the panic from his tumbling subsided. The party of beastkins had kept running throughout the ordeal and he had no idea whether they’d even seen what had happened. Not that he cared at the moment.
(I’mma kill these motherfuckers..)
He spread his detection around to a radius of 15 meters, thinning out a little and using only the feedback to maneuvre in the direction of running. He turned around towards the thugs, a look of shock pasted on their animal faces from watching Satoshi’s earlier movements and now running backwards. Yet it did nothing to slow them down, and with Satoshi limited by the speed of his fellow runners, the thugs were slowly gaining in on them. One more dagger came towards him, this time from his right. His detection worked like a charm as he determined it wouldn’t hit him and he made no attempts to dodge or deflect it.
A sound of bursting and then splashing came from behind the series of shabby houses from the direction where the dagger had come from, followed by two others. Satoshi smiled under his hood.
(No daggers to be coming from that side anymore.)
A few more similar sounds came from the left, reducing the number of the thugs to only those in front of the backwards-moving Satoshi. Satoshi’s smile under his hood widened further, the thrill of power over another’s life pumping his adrenaline.
He watched as a dozen beastkins of various animal origin ran towards him, from rat to dog to some kind of scaled type. Right then, a short and stout ratkin pulled out yet again, another dagger, ready to throw.
Satoshi waited intently, keeping the ratkin in his sight. The world seemed to slow down as he focused his breathing ability to the utmost, increasing his perception way beyond normal human levels. His passive detection extended towards the assaulter boosting his perception to yet several degrees higher. Satoshi could make out the explicit arm movements of the ratkin as he brought his hand forward in a backhanded throw of the dagger. The dagger left the ratkin’s hand and swirled slowly, every second seeming five to Satoshi. The rest of the world blurred out as his eyes fixated on the dagger and feedback from the air it cut registered in his brain. The dagger made its way to Satoshi, much faster than his own speed of travel yet to Satoshi, it seemed to be coming towards him at a toddler’s pace. He could have easily dodged and much more easily deflected it but the sheer exhilaration he felt at the combinatorial use of his ability made him try something he had only seen or read in fiction.
The thugs stopped chasing at the stupid sight they had just witnessed.
They had completely believed that this group of five adventures were easy prey. Adventures always travelled light and if they were carrying bags this full of something, that something had to be God damn valuable.
When the adventures had actually started running away, they knew they had them. Carrying such heavy bags, there was only so much distance they could cover and it was only a matter of time before they dagger down a couple of them, if not all.
But the cloaked man. The only one who carried absolutely nothing. In fact, he seemed to be the weakest with the presence he exuded. But the cloaked man. They had never seen anyone like him. Not only did he reflect multiple daggers without even lifting a hand, he ran backwards like it was no big deal. Without even needing to take a look, he maneuvered along the curves and bends of the slum. But it was a certain feat that made them stop. And boy were they glad that they stopped when they later found out the conditions of their comrades that ran to the sides in an attempted pincer movement.
The ratkin shuddered as he stood among his gang of thieves, each and every one had come to a stop on their own at the unbelievable sight. The hooded man had already deflected the daggers without moving his hand, which, coupled with his cloaked appearance could have been understood as a mage’s barrier. Yet, when he actually moved his hand… he caught the dagger... inches away from being pierced in the neck. The man did not even bother to dodge it. He had simply turned around using his already unbelievable way of movement and then proceeded to casually catch the airborne dagger by its grip, turn back to the front and continue away.
The thugs stood, wide-eyed, unable to comprehend what they had just seen. For the man to perform a feat so easily, he had to have been a man of awesome status and power.
A few of them fell to their knees, and the rest did not fault them for it. They considered themselves lucky that he seemed to be in a hurry and left them all with their lives, for there was no way they could picture themselves surviving a clash with the man.
The world returned to normal as Satoshi turned to the front, dagger in hand. He let go of the concentrated passive detection, immediately making him dizzy and making his head throb in pain.
Satoshi slammed his eyes shut as tears dripped down from the sides, keeping his fly-running purely on instinct. He gripped his head with his empty hand, as he felt the veins in his head pop out and beat rhythmically with his heartbeat. He felt on his face a wetness different from the tears, more viscous. He felt around his nose and mouth, and parted his gritted teeth to taste the liquid a taste of iron. His nose was bleeding.
Satoshi realised, even in his painfully pounding head, that he had overdone it; this was not the first time. He had been feeling a similar rebound from overusing his ability a few days back when he fought against the badasaur.
Satoshi kept channelling his ability into breathing to pump more oxygen into his brain, that screamed to be shut down. He stumbled more than a couple few time but kept himself going. He had detected that for some reason the thugs had stopped chasing them and he could only feel fortunate about the situation. He kept flying behind the beastkin party, trying to recover and clean the blood off his face.
Meanwhile, the beastkin party simply ran, oblivious of the struggle that had just taken place at their back. They had only heard some sounds, more prominently the bursting sound from Satoshi playing with the thugs’ lungs, but couldn’t figure out the origin so they simply ran without question. Only the rabbit-women’s ears twitched uncontrollably with a look of horror pasted on her face.