For all the fears he had of running into monstrous beasts, Nate seemed to have no luck running into any beast at all. He spent almost three days wandering around the wilderness without seeing any sign of wild beasts. The effort of hunting had been completely in vain as he was getting hungrier by the moment.
He had ventured out several times with no luck in finding something to shoot. Every time he went out from his protected hide, he always felt like his death at the claws of a beast was practically inevitable. But every time he managed to avoid danger altogether. He was honestly starting to believe that the wild beasts had moved off away from this part of the wilderness.
His lack of food didn’t deter him from practicing his bow and arrow use though.
By the end of his third day searching for food, he even managed to gain an archery skill after some a session of target practice. But the system alert didn’t manage to bring him any comfort.
[‘Archer’s Sight’ is a passive skill that allows the user’s ability at focusing on a target increase. Ability to focus on targets is increased by 10%]
“What good does focusing on targets do me? I can’t find anything to shoot but leaves,” Nate said to himself as he finished up reading the alert. His frustration over the lack of food was growing into an irritability that Nate couldn’t make go away.
“Guess I can just drink some chunky water and go to bed,” Nate said as he went back inside his tree home for the night.
“You idiot. You don’t know what the hell you are doing,” Nate quibbled with he tried to reason a way into finding some food. His stomach let out a grumble in agreement. He honestly was ignorant of the ways to survive in the wild. His city life had taught him very little and even the stuff that he did learn seemed to be incorrect or useless.
In a state of hungry depression, Nate spent the first half of his fourth day muddling around in the woods without seeing any sign of potential food sources. Even though the day was only half over, he was already starting to feel tired. His hunger was starting to get the better of him.
As Nate moved along through a patch of brush, his bow got tangled in some of the vegetation.
“Fucking shit,” Nate cursed as he yanked his bow to free it of the brush. His anger must have caused him to put in a bit of extra effort because the mess of vines tangled in his bow came free from the brush. The instant lack of resistance caused Nate to tumble end over end onto the ground. As he landed, he could hear some of the arrow shafts on his back crack.
The combination of hunger and anger do not mix well. Nate huffed as he sat up. Grabbing his bow, which was still tangled in a mess of vines, Nate threw the weapon off to the side.
“Fucking piece of shit,” Nate cursed again in anger as he looked at the trio of broken arrows in his hand. His side was sore from the fall, but he was most aggrieved by the arrows that had broken. Thankfully, he still had some good arrows remaining but he would now need to waste some time making new arrow shafts.
Taking the broken arrows, Nate dislodged the three arrowheads and put them in his pocket. At least he didn’t have to craft those again. Looking at the broken arrow shafts on his lap caused Nate’s anger to flare again. He grabbed the broken arrows and threw them out of the way.
Nate had just finished throwing the broken arrow shafts when he caught movement in the distance out of the corner of his eye.
About a hundred yards away, a pair of man-sized beasts were rooting through debris on the forest floor. The sight of the beasts caused adrenaline to spike through Nate’s body. His movements froze, but it felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest. After days of searching for something to eat, he had finally spotted a beast. Or he could have just found his death.
In absolute stillness, Nate watched as the two beasts moved around under a tree. They seemed to be focused on whatever they were doing and had no idea he was even present.
The lack of reaction by the beasts slightly eased the rush of adrenaline, but Nate could almost hear his heart beating in his ears. Since they didn’t see him, Nate focused in on the beasts.
As soon as he tried to make out what type of creatures these were, Nate realized that the beasts had a striking resemblance to one of the few animals he knew. He had actually seen a drawing of these beasts in a picture book in his education classes. Although the memory was a bit hazy, Nate recalled that these beasts, or something similar looking, were called pigs. From what he remembered, these beasts could be ferocious but they didn’t actively hunt for people to kill.
As he collected his thoughts, Nate realized that the beasts still had not noticed his presence despite the commotion he had made a few seconds before. Nate felt like he had some hope and grew excited.
But his excitement faded a second later. In his mental fit a few seconds before, he had tossed his bow on the ground about two body lengths away. He couldn’t reach the weapon without taking the risk of moving. Any movement could be recognized by the beast and his opportunity would be lost. Making matters worse, the bow was still tangled in the vines from the nearby brush and he only had two arrows left.
The remaining anger Nate had faded as he realized his own stupidity. He had let his emotions get the better of him and had may have ruined his only opportunity to get food.
But his hunger told him that he still needed to attempt getting some food. The beasts were grunting and foraging through the leaf litter. They seemed to be completely oblivious to his presence as he sat down next to the brush planning his next actions. He still needed to try.
With a slow controlled movement, Nate crawled across the ground over to the bow.
[‘Silent Presence’ has increased to Level 5]
Nate had never been more thankful for skill level increase as he made his way over to the bow inch by inch. With some considerable effort, Nate managed to make it to the bow.
Sitting on the ground with his bow on his lap, Nate eased his knife out of its holster and started to remove the tangled mess as quietly as possible.
After a few minutes of working on the mess, the bow was free and Nate felt some relief. With the bow ready to go, Nate nocked an arrow and looked up to find the beasts.
He didn’t see them anymore.
Just as he was about to have another mental breakdown, Nate heard a sound in the distance. The noise sounded just like the beasts, but he couldn’t see them through the brush. The pigs hadn’t moved far.
Moving into a squatting position, Nate readied himself to creep toward the noise. The brush gave his movement great cover as he moved toward the sounds.
With some considerable effort at moving slowly, Nate was soon near the edge of the brush pile. He readied his bow and pulled the bowstring back. The effort wasn’t the smoothest and his arm was slightly shaking due to the strength required to keep the bow held back. In a fluid motion, Nate moved around the corner ready to shoot. But the sight in front of him stopped him in his tracks.
The pair of pigs had multiplied into a whole herd. The group of beast numbered at least 15 by Nate’s quick glance.
He didn’t know what to do.
With the weight of the bow beginning to strain his arms, Nate gracefully moved back behind the brush to hide.
He had been comfortable with shooting one pig while another one was present, but now the situation had completely changed. Even if he managed to kill one of the beasts, Nate didn't believe that the other dozen pigs would let him off easy. He felt greatly outnumbered and threatened by the herd.
The show lasted for a good thirty minutes before the herd of pigs began to move off.
Nate had spent the time patiently watching the group from a distance. His purpose of observing the beasts wasn’t just for his own entertainment and education. Nate had hoped that one of the beasts would break away from the pack and give him a shot with his bow. If he could have killed single one from a distance, then maybe the others wouldn’t spot him.
But the plan never came to fruition. The pig beasts had remained bunched up around a group of similar-looking trees. These trees were slightly different than the others and the pigs seemed to prefer to eat something on the ground near their base.
Although Nate didn’t have any desire to take on large groups of the beasts, watching the animals gave him something to relieve his boredom. The behaviors of the beasts were very interesting to observe. This was actually the first time Nate had seen a beast and wasn’t afraid for his life.
Watching the beasts also taught him a little bit about the wilderness and hunting. These beasts seemed to like to eat at the base of this particular type of tree. Nate had decided to call them grey barks because of their extreme lack of color. Most of the other trees around had hints of brown, green, and red in their bark. But the pigs only seemed to like these with no color.
As the beasts moved off out of sight, Nate decided to go investigate the area. He had learned about some of the beasts’ behaviors from observing them for a short while. The more information he had on the creatures, then the easier it would be to hunt them.
Nate moved along quietly to the patch of grey barked trees to see what the beasts had been eating. As he neared the trees, Nate stumbled on something and fell to the ground for the second time of the day.
Looking for what had caused him to lose his balance, Nate realized that he had just found what the beasts had been eating.
There were broken spheres spread out all across the ground. Picking up a piece, Nate noted that the insides were soft and squishy. By the empty hulls lying about, Nate assumed that the beasts were cracking these spheres to get at the soft material inside to eat.
Picking up an unbroken nut, Nate used his knife to crack it open. The inside was slightly orange and had a distinct smell similar to wood.
If the beasts can eat it, why can’t I? Nate was struggling at taking the risk. Given his luck, the insides of the nut were probably poisonous. But he was practically starving to death at this point anyway. He was lucky to have enough energy to move around.
After a bit of internal debate, Nate’s curiosity and hunger got the better of him. Nate put the soft inside of the brown sphere to his mouth and bit down.
The flavor was very earthy, but the consistency was similar to a thick porridge. As soon as the bite of material hit his stomach, Nate felt his energy begin to be replenished.
The feeling was pleasant, but Nate anxiously waited for an alert to follow. Nothing came.
Nate realized that he had just found food on his own in the wilderness. He did have some instructions from the beasts, but he had still found something good to eat. This was evident by the broken fist-sized nut that he currently had in his hand and the mealy material he was chewing on. The find had been a wonderful discovery as it gave Nate a steady supply of food.
After inhaling the insides of six of the delectable spheres, Nate loaded his backpack with as many as he could carry and made his way back his tree shelter.
That night, Nate slept on the floor of the tree hollow with a full belly and a grin on his face. He believed that he had found a stable supply of food or at least enough that he wouldn’t starve to death anytime soon. Now, he just had to figure out what other things he could do to help his survival. Maybe finding and watching a few beasts would give him some more hints. Maybe he would only eat the acorns for the rest of his life. At this point, Nate didn’t care. He wasn’t going to sleep hungry.