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Marcello sat by the bloodied face of Fred, the man beaten to a bloody pulp but otherwise alright.

You have slain [Lvl 8 Human (Healer)]

You have slain [Lvl 10 Human (Mage)]

He received several notifications about his kills, accompanied by solo experience gained and points received. But the amount of experience gained from killing low level humans was pitifully insignificant compared to the beavers from the impossible trial.

In other words, there was very little incentive to kill humans for the system granted benefits. It’s not like these low levels had any good equipment either. With no more laws to keep him accountable, Marcello decided that he would just follow his brain when deciding whether or not to kill. If he wanted to, he would, and if he didn’t want to, he wouldn’t.

Marcello didn’t have a hero complex. He was just another human, trying to survive in a harsh world that had just turned a lot harsher with the advent of the tutorial and the assimilation process.

Although… It wasn't great to leave loose ends alive. They could come back with a vengeance later on, after all.

At the thought of that, Marcello suddenly laughed. There was another way to look at it. He was letting his angry livestock grow, to fatten up and level up and gather more equipment so that they would grant him more experience and loot by the next time they came around looking for revenge.

All he had to do was make sure that his growth was unmatched, so that their strength disparity stayed that way.

“You’ve been spared this time, Fred,” Marcello said awfully cheerily to the bloodied Fred on the ground next to him. “Run along then.”

Fred didn’t move, as he had fallen unconscious.

“Oh well,” Marcello said, standing back up with his longsword slung on his back. He was almost at full health again, having leeched enough health with the thirsty steel of his blade that he didn’t really even need health potions or a healer for this kind of minimal damage.

He began walking away from the scene of the skirmish, deeper into the forest. From what Fred had told him, the deep northern part of the forest was guarded by wolves that were so high level that nobody could get through them. He also said something about scouting parties no longer being sent up north for another reason, but he was incoherently babbling at that point.

According to Fred, to the south east was Eric’s camp, and to the south west was the camp of some other big shot called the Lion, which sounded like some kind of promoted druid class. That was the extent of Fred’s knowledge of other camps, as the forest was massive and not every sector had the chance to meet up, especially because the forest was segmented because of the wolves.

Marcello advanced through the forest with his rusty hatchet in hand, periodically cutting a wedge into the trees to mark his progress, allowing the marks to guide his way back to the gnome’s house. He had thought about marking the tree that was Garib’s house as well, but leaving a wedge in someone else’s house seemed a bit disrespectful.

He wondered where that grove was that Garib was talking about. There was a notification from earlier that he never got around to opening. Hopefully it would give him some clues about how to proceed from here on out.

Quest: [Uncover the secret of the forest]

[Uncover the secret of the forest] – You have entered into a strange forest, filled with bountiful dangers and possible treasures. A strange gnome living inside the hollow of a tree has asked you to retrieve an old silver sword from a grove in the northern part of the forest. Be warned, as the path there will be treacherous.

This quest will expire during the night of the blood moon. To complete this quest, remember to act promptly. After the night of the blood moon, all forest intrigue quests will expire as monsters evolve to their next stage.

You may be able to shape the destiny of the forest by how you choose to approach this quest. May the stars watch over you, brave one.

Marcello absentmindedly walked into a branch while reading the lengthy quest description, hitting his head on a twig. Ouch.

He was busy thinking. There was a lot here to take in, most importantly the existence of phases for the forest. He looked up at the sky, the night sky settling in. Most importantly, the moon hung low tonight and was slightly tinted red.

He wasn’t an expert on moon cycles, but it was common sense that at some point in this month, the moon would reach its zenith in the sky and mark the beginning of the red moon phase of the forest.

Suddenly, he stopped in his tracks. Something had just clicked in his mind.

Silver sword.

Wolves guarding the forest.

A full moon.

Shit. If he wasn’t able to get to the sword, he needed to prioritize finding some other source of silver, and as quickly as possible. It was common knowledge from the annals of human knowledge that werewolves were weak to silver. That kind of thing seemed like just a passing myth back on earth told to children to ignite their imaginations, but here in this new world, Marcello wasn’t so sure that he should discount archaic human knowledge anymore.

He headed northbound, carefully proceeding in what Fred had warned him was overleveled wolf territory, and an impassable barrier for most humans not named Marcello.

Along the way, he met a scant few level fifteen deers and other animals, which he killed rather easily with his archeios javelin and a few swings of his sword.

“Eh, might as well,” Marcello muttered to himself, looking at the deer he had slain. It was good meat, and there was an abundance of wood around the forest for him to make a campfire with. He wasn’t in too much of a rush either, as night was falling and the way forward was a bit hard to see without a torch.

Equipping his rusty hatchet, he made quick work of a tree with the increased woodcutting speed from tenacious woodcutter. He could’ve used his store of wooden planks that he brought from the terrestrial plane, but the quality of that lumber was far too good for him to just burn up willy-nilly on a campfire.

Marcello quickly constructed a campfire from a mix of fresh lumber and dried twigs and branches that he found lying around, and then began to slowly cook the venison on a stake.

In the meantime, he wanted to try something out. Using the excess wood from the tree he had just felled, he stripped the bark off of a log and began to work on the log, standing it upright near his campfire before carving into it. The information from the quest before had put him in a bit of a fantasy-minded mood, and so he was constructing a totem to ward off evil spirits or something like that.

The main reason he was doing this was because he wanted to understand just how the carpentry class dealt with creations. He saw just how powerful the platform of the king’s downfall was, and wanted to experiment with constructing more structures or items of significance.

He wasn’t exactly the most artistic person, and especially not so with a hatchet. Marcello was adequate at making planks, and that was about it. Actually trying to form a shape by chipping away with his hatchet at a standing log that he tied together with rope was a feat that required the dexterity that came with practice. No, not the stat. Practice.

The slightly red moon rose in the sky as the flames of his campfire flickered. Marcello was now shaving off parts of the log with his hatchet until the smell of burnt meat reached his nostril.

Damn, he forgot to turn the venison. Quickly putting his hatchet to the side, he rushed over to the meat and turned it, cutting away the burnt part with his dagger of bleeding, which was now just a glorified uncommon tier kitchen knife.

Marcello kept turning the venison over the flame until the meat was cooked and tender. He took a small wooden stake and stabbed the meat, flavoring it with some salt that he still had left over from the tutorial store, before eating it like a giant meat kebab.

His stomach grumbled happily as he ate, and with greasy hands he got back to work on the totem.

It was hard work, but the shape of the totem began to turn into that of a cylindrical face with a formless body below. He was modeling it after Frosty as best as he could, although Marcello wasn’t about to turn into some professional wood carver or sculptor, so this was about as high quality as it was going to get.

He also added two arms to the totem by melding short wooden planks to the sides of the log with his mana.

After a while of working on the totem, he was finally done. Marcello stepped back and took a look at his creation holistically.

It was kind of dopey looking, like a snowman with crooked arms and something that a child with magical abilities would cobble together while playing in the field.

Nevertheless, Marcello was proud of it, and he used identify on his new creation.

[Awful Totem of an Ice Giant]

An awful piece constructed by an unknown carpenter. The totem is uneven and poorly constructed, with very little care put into carving the features of the subject matter, making the subject matter unrecognizable. Animal grease lines the body and arms of the totem, as the carpenter carelessly assembled the totem while cooking and eating meat cut from an animal.

Nevertheless, it has been constructed so awfully that it can serve as a scare tactic at night.

Those who surprisingly encounter the Awful Totem of an Ice Giant at night will experience +10% fear for the rest of the night. They will also lose their appetite.

Characteristics: awful, greasy, ugly.

Huh.

Not quite what he expected.

Marcello knew that he didn’t spend the most amount of care or skill in making the totem, but this just felt mean. His pride was stung quite a bit by the description that just kept getting worse as he kept on reading.

Still, the totem conferred a bonus characteristic in the form of fear and appetite loss, which confirmed Marcello’s theory that he could create wooden constructions with bonuses in the future. Or… debuffs as well, it seemed like, as he just learned the hard way.

Anyway, it was time to move on and do a bit more trekking through the night. Marcello packed up his belongings and snuffed the campfire, leaving the totem behind along with the mess of wood chips and bark, and some burnt meat.

Donning his armor, he lit a makeshift torch using some leftover deer fat and spare wood, and continued his journey up north through the forest, as the faint howl of a wolf could be heard in the distance.

---------

Some time later…

The scout gulped nervously, as he came across a trail in the dirt. Judging by the size and shape of the trail as well as the antler drag marks on the side of the trail, he surmised that someone must have dragged the carcass of a deer this way through the woods. He motioned to his companion, as the female thief crept forward with her quiet steps ability activated.

The trail made it obvious that someone had been here recently, but it was in the middle of the night and the scout was getting the heebie-jeebies from the faint cricket sounds and the odd rustle of a bush, not to mention that low hanging moon that basked the forest in a faint red glow.

He didn’t want to be on night patrol, but since the bigwigs were heading towards Michael’s camp today and took all the higher level scouts with them, he was next on the patrol list.

He raised his torch and squinted, using an advanced vision skill unique to the ranger class to see forward. The trail made a left about a few yards up ahead.

“To the left,” he said to the female thief in a low voice. She had a dagger in her hand, and a crossbow over her shoulder.

The two of them moved forward slowly, following the trail and making a left as they glided through the forest light-footed.

Soon, they reached what looked like an old campfire, already put out an indeterminate amount of time ago.

“Who do you think was here?” he asked the thief.

“I don’t know, but we’ll have to report it since he killed a deer,” the thief replied. “Wait… what is that?”

The thief stumbled back in fear, letting out an unbidden shout at the presence of a dark figure standing behind the archer. The archer turned immediately, the flickering light from his torch further unveiling a monstrous rigid creature protruding from the ground, with a mangled face and two strangely protruding arms.

“M-monster!!!!!”

The two scouts ran for their lives away from the strangely rigid creature that they had caught a glimpse of. Soon, rumors would spread among the camp that an unmoving monster was butchering and eating the deer of the forest.

Meanwhile, a bit further north, a lone knight suddenly got the feeling that people were talking about him.

“Hm, must be the wind,” he said, dismissing the feeling, as he swung his hatchet once more at another upright log.

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HereBeTreasure

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