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I dug my knife into the tree. Well, I tried to dig my knife into the tree, but even the plants here were reinforced with mana.


“Shit.” I swore as the knife failed to cut the hard bark, before trying to use my skill.


[Scratch] failed to activate again.


It was not a hard choice to choose between [Scratch] or [Peck]. Focusing on them had yielded more information;



[Scratch] is the primary enhancement type attack used by Hell Chickens. A manifestation of mana in their talons allows them to cut through even steel.


[Peck] is a defensive class biting skill used as a last resort in territorial fights between Hell Chickens.


I definitely wasn’t planning on biting any monsters; even if I was currently eating them, I didn’t want to do it while they were still alive.


“This system needs a better tutorial.” I tried and failed again to activate scratch, sliding my knife over the steel like bark of the tree.

Tutorial initializing

Notice: Non-class specific weapons have been disabled.

“What?” I had time to exclaim before a burning pain erupted from my palm, causing me to drop my knife and jump back, grabbing my palm. I shouted in pain, turning my hand up to inspect it.


It was undamaged. So, the skill didn’t work with a weapon then. I turned my hand around, inspecting the back of it, when I noticed an abnormality. The surface of my nails had turned a textured black.


“What is this?” I asked out loud, not expecting the system prompt that followed.

Query Result:

Debuff applied from [Scratch] Level 1. This debuff will be cleared when [Scratch] reaches level 10.

Experimentally, I asked for more information. “What does the debuff do?”


Query Result:

Debuff applied from [Scratch] Level 1.

This debuff will be cleared when [Scratch] reaches level 10.

A dead end. “How can I level up [Scratch]?


Query Result:

Devour more.


This confirms my suspicion- that I have an irregular and undocumented system. At least, if it was documented, I had never heard of it- a system that leveled up by eating monsters. The common and known systems are referred to as regular; most people have one of the regular systems. Irregular systems are few and far between; the known irregulars in America in the last decade could be counted on a hand; and their users are known for their penchant for suddenly disappearing from society.


I clenched my fist. “What weapons would be class specific for the devourer class? If I use monster skills, then…”


The mana for [Scratch]’s flowed down my hand and out the tips of my fingers gouging into the wood of the tree. It was an unimpressive skill, cutting only centimeters deep, but it was mine. My first skill. I smiled. A new popup appeared:


Tutorial Initialization Complete

Hunt: Hell chickens to progress your scratch skill

Rewards: Bonus progress towards skill, loot based on performance.

“Oh, even more rewards, then?” Perfect. I was still hungry. I made my way to the river- no easy task, given the lack of a sun to navigate. Following the path of sparse foliage typically leads the way. The river flowed towards the jungle of red bamboo, filled with hell chicken roosts. Despite the deep bags under my eyes, I felt more energized than ever as I stalked towards my prey.


My forays into the red bamboo forest to find a Hell Chicken to hunt left me with some knowledge of their roosts; it didn’t take long for me to reach the first of them. The constant light of this world had left my circadian rhythm in shambles. The Hell Chickens must have been disturbed by the constant day time too- they were still sleeping when I found them.


I stepped diligently through the nearly barren, foamy soil, standing in the dim shade of the bamboo shoots.


I don’t know what I was thinking walking up to the chicken’s face. To be fair, was I very preoccupied with the thought of using my skill in real combat for the first time. I thought maybe the front of its face would make a better target than its thick, fatty neck. Hindsights always 20-20. I probably should have learned the first time though- Hell Chicken senses are incredible.


I also probably should have paid better attention. It was too still as I crept towards it.


Foot over foot, it didn’t move.


Inch by inch, I creeped closer.


Then its eyes opened, with a half roar and a half squak, and it latched onto my arm, easily pulling me off of my feet. I screamed as I felt fiery pain erupt in my arm left arm, followed by a spine chilling cracking. Desperately, I dug my fingers towards its eyes, as it dragged me in circles in the dirt. Its eye was rock hard even as I punched into it, not even making the monster flinch. Instinctively, reflexively, I [Scratched] at its eye. Blood erupted in a geyser, following the burning white trails of mana that gouged through the monsters flesh.


It screamed. I screamed. My left arm dangled loosely at my side.


I [Scratched] again, this time burying my fingers into its neck even as I inspected it.


Hell Chicken


It recoiled, flinging blood about as it wildly bucked away from me. It screamed as it kicked up chunks of dirt. I reeled, wincing as the pain in my arm radiated in wracking waves through my body. But this wasn’t the first time I had been badly injured in a raid.


I charged forward to finish the kill.


[Scratch] gouged deep lines into its neck, tearing open its sinewy flesh. Cords of flesh dangled from its neck, bouncing as it reared back to attack me again. I watched it rear to attack me. It was faster than me. Stronger. There was no way that I could run away from it. I dove towards the attack, the monsters serrated beak tearing into the flesh of my shoulder. I screamed as I felt the beak tear me apart. I swung again.


[Scratch] scraped into bone, through the torn flesh I had already gored, causing the monster to shudder. Its whole body winced. I felt my nails tear apart flesh, and the awful monster fell in a heap to the ground, its squawking reduced to silence. I panted, sitting on the ground.


How close had I come to dying?




Name: Damon

Level: 2


Title: None

Class: Devourer

[Scratch] Lvl. 1 | [Talons] Lvl. 9

HP: 60/200


AP: 6/11


Strength: 10

Constitution: 10


Dexterity: 11

Perception: 10



Very close. It was abnormal to gain a class before level five. My vision began to blur from the pain wracking my body. This time there was no healer. I began to focus on the “Devourer” class. I had never inspected it, too caught up in the use of my first skill.


Devourer: Gain ##### by ####ing monsters.
Restore health by consuming monsters

“What?” I blinked, looking closely. Some of the words describing the class’s effects were illegible.


Devourer: Gain skills by consuming monsters.
Restore health by consuming monsters


That was suspiciously convenient. I didn’t have any kind of healing potion with me. The members of my party had probably blown through nearly any monster they found in the dungeon. Cautiously, I reached for the knife in my pocket, grabbing hold of its handle. I raised it. The burning sensation returned, setting my palm aflame. I tried desperately to cling to it as my hand shook.


I gritted my teeth through the pain, trying to bring my knife down even as it wobbled in my hand. As I brought it down, my hand cramped, and I dropped the blade. I exclaimed a string of profanity. I needed to heal, and fast, before one of these monsters smelled the blood and hunted me down in the forest.


Reluctantly, I slid onto my knees, propping myself up with my right arm. I twitched. I could feel the mana in the monster’s body beginning to dissipate into the air. I had to consume it as fast as possible. I leaned forward, my mouth hovering a centimeter from the chicken’s flesh. It was still radiating heat and mana into the air.


Then I bit into the lumpy carcass.

Tutorial initialized


Hunt Hell Chickens: 3/10


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