– Grab it with both hands.
– Now hold it beside your waist.
– Left side or right side?
– Which hand do you prefer?
– Then right side.
Katsumi stood at the edge of a wheat field taller than her. She had a sharp knife in hand, one that every good chef has. Behind her ran a road on elevated ground, separated from the field by a stone fence. Tarax, the titan, leaned on its warm surface and gave the girl directions.
– And now?
– You stand still and wait.
– For what?
A lukewarm breeze ran by her. The weather was warm, so she left the chef uniform at the guild. She had a black shirt left from home, which in pair with her black leggings allowed fast and open movement, all the more supported by her gym shoes. 'They are comfy', Katsumi thought the morning of reincarnation and didn't regret it ever since. She liked them so much in fact, that she took out the black shoelaces and replaced them with orange ones that fit her style even more. All well and fine, besides the black eyepatch covering one of her eyes.
– Nobody's coming. Shouldn't we go search for 'em?
– Be patient.
She held the knife with firm grips. Movement could be seen from deep inside the wheat field. Something was rapidly approaching.
– Hey, if something goes wrong you help me, right?
– Focus on the kill!
A loud gulp could be heard, as she readied her weapon for strike. Between her and the tall wheat was no more than four steps.
– Hey! Whoever you are, I have a knife in hand and if you try attacking me, I can legally stab you! It's self-defense, okay?
– Quit it already!
– What if it's just some kid? I'm no psycho!
– Children cannot enter this area. Focus!
The movement stopped before her and she braced for impact. Silence engulfed before a doglike rodent creature lunged at her.
She let out a battle-cry and retaliated by stabbing the knife straight through its chin. The whole blade disappeared in its skull. The creature tried scratching her but couldn't, as death came sooner than expected.
Katsumi pulled the knife out of and stepped back. She felt a strange relief seeing the creature hit the ground. It had the legs of a dog, but its head was unlike anything she's seen before. It had the teeth of a rat on a face of a horse mixed with a dog.
– What is this thing? – she looked away as blood began pouring out of the wound.
– A wheat-eater. They are vicious creatures, best known as bringer of famines. Although they only eat plants, mainly wheat, they are aggressive little pests. Analyze the body before it disappears.
– Wheat-eaters are not animals but monsters. They are spawned either from a hive or a core and possess no soul. Only high level monsters do and just a small percentage of them.
– Can you go more into detail?
– Yes, but watch out to your right!
Another wheat-eater lunged at her. Katsumi slashed the knife at it and cut its mouth. The rodent fell in front of her and immediately went for another attack. Katsumi kicked it in the head to which it fell back, giving an opening. She jumped on it and stabbed the creature again and again, making it bleed as hard as she could.
– Fuck you! – she screamed, before finally making the final stab.
– Easy now. You haven't killed before, have you?
– It's not killing if they are not alive, right? – she smiled, but Tarax just frowned.
– That might be true, but don't let the heat of the battle consume you. The more you get used to this, the easier it will be to murder someone with soul.
– Come on now, they don't feel pain! It's not the same, not at all!
Movement was heard before another monster jumped at her from behind. She grabbed the half-dead rodent by its legs and, with a fast spin, slapped the other rodent with its body.
– That's what I'm talking about! – Katsumi burst out laughing.
She went for the knife, but just before picking it up thought otherwise. The rodent fell on its back and before it could get up, Katsumi dropped down to it, smashing her fists into the monster over and over again.
– How do you like this? Huh? Talk to me, motherfucker! How do you like me now!
– That's enough. – Tarax grabbed Katsumi by the shirt and held her up like a cat holds a kitten.
– What are you doing? Put me down, it's not dead yet!
– No. We're done here.
– What are you talking about? Put me down already! – she hit him, which felt like hitting a brick wall. – You think I'm not a hero? Just put me down and I'll show you how big of a god I really am!
– If you're a hero, tell me your motivation!
– It's so I get stronger and defend Aeren!
– No. I want to hear your true motivation!
– God damn it, let me go!
Katsumi fought like a feral animal caught in a hunter's trap. Tarax let go of her and she fell on her buttocks. She wanted to go back to the rodent, but its body was already gone. The titan went back to the road.
– Where are you going? Hey!
– I was waiting for potential, but you're just scum. If you want good for the kid, tell him you're not fit for the mission and leave town. What a waste of my time…
– You looking down on me? Come back and be a man, say that to my face!
Being out of breath, she sat on the ground and watched as the titan walked away. He didn't look back, not even when she yelled her lungs out. Katsumi curled up and gazed at the dusty road. The dark poison of anger glittered in the tears running down her face.
'Scum, eh? Scum? You fucking moron! I never asked for any of this! Of course I don't have any potential, I never wanted to become a warrior! I just wanted to be happy, but for months now I haven't felt any joy! But this… this whole place… this is the worst! It's a nightmare I cannot wake up from!'
Movement was heard from the wheat. With a frown on her teary face, she stood up and readied the knife. As a wheat-eater jumped from the tall grass, she stabbed the knife straight through its skull. It tried fighting back for a second and scratched Katsumi's arm, but shortly after fell to the ground with a lifeless body.
She watched the monster bleed out. Her mind was foggy and dark, her thoughts whether to stab again or kick the remaining life out of it.
But another sneaked up on her. It jumped on Katsumi's back and scraped with its huge claws, tearing the black shirt apart. She screamed from the pain as the claws deepened into her back. Improvising, she fell back and sandwiched the monster between herself and the ground, repeatedly stabbing it in the face. It let go and Katsumi stood up to look over the bleeding monster. Engulfed by rage, she stomped on the rodent's stomach and watched as it breathed one last. But that wasn't enough.
The torn apart shirt revealed her huge, bleeding wounds. She teared it off and tied it around the wound, just below her black bras.
– The fuck do you guys think you are? – she yelled before rushing into the wheat field.
Instead of practicing self-defense, she ran forward with only one thing in mind: a killing intent. She heard movement from her left and ran that way. It was another monster chewing on wheat. She plunged forward and stabbed the creature in the chest, then kicked it to the ground and stomped on its head. The sound of bones cracking scared something and Katsumi heard it run away. She followed the sound ready for the attack. It was fast though, faster than her.
– Come back here! Don't run now! Don't be scared! I won't hurt you, just break all you fucking bones!
The thrill of the hunt. A power trip. Bloodlust. Lost in this intoxicating mixture of violence and pride, she recoiled as the sky turned red and the clouds changed to black.
'What the hell', she thought to herself before a message popped up in her eye.
/// Warning! ///
Area not suitable for user's skill level.
Current Skill Level: 1.
Recommended Skill Level: 10.
– Huh? That stupid system again? How do I make you disappear?
Focused on the message, a sudden movement startled her. She readied the knife, but no rodent came. Whatever it was, it didn't go straight for her. Instead, it was much smarter. A sound on her left, then on her right, then in front of her, then disappearing just to repeat it all over again. It was toying with the prey, confusing it and before the killing blow.
– Who are you? Come out now or I'll kill you twice!
But again, movement on her left, then on her right, then from behind and then finally…
Crack! Flying through the air like a whip, vine lashed out and grabbed her by the leg. Katsumi immediately attacked it with the knife, but the vine was too thick to be cut. She tried holding onto the wheat behind her, but that also proved to be useless. It was slow but possessed a tremendous amount of force.
– Yeah, pull me closer so I can stab you easier, moron!
But her eyes widened as she saw the enemy wasn't a regular monster. It was a plant, sitting inside a hole. It had a circular and purple mouth, from one end to the other the size of Katsumi's entire body. Long and thin spikes acted as its teeth, shining from a glue-like mixture.
– No! Please, somebody help me! Help me! Tarax, please come back! Tarax!
More vines grabbed her, pulling faster and faster before closing with the sound of a wet slap. She was trapped in darkness and felt nothing, just a weird liquid rising from the bottom of the mouth.
She grabbed her knife and stabbed the plant, but it proved to be no use. As the liquid reached above her shoes, she felt a burning sensation. It was acid. She was being digested.
– Help me! Somebody! Please!
Katsumi felt the air slowly leave her prison. Either she comes up with something real fast or dies to the rising acid. The wall is too thick to be pierced. She tried stabbing the part where the acid came from but that only made more come forth. There was nothing left, but the opening of the mouth.
She put the knife down and tried tapping out where the two ends the mouth met. The acid was rising quickly, almost reaching her ankle already. Almost beginning to panic, she found tiny opening jammed her fist through it, but the glue trapped her hand and made it unable to move.
'Come on, think fast! This is a plant, right? It digests animals with its acid and holds them hostage with this superglue. How does it open its mouth again? What is its secret? Could it be…'
She grabbed a palmful of acid with her free hand and threw it at the opening. Her skin burnt, some even got on her face. But she didn't stpő. She washed her stuck hand in acid, forcing it back and forth, bathing the opening in this burning mixture.
Air was running low and the acid went above her ankle, when the mouth finally opened, spitting her out like rotten food. Katsumi crawled into safe distance and watched as the plant's acid poured out of its half open mouth down to the ground.
A loud sight left her as she lay back. Feeling finally safe, she watched the crimson skies and listened whether there were enemies nearby. And in this moment of peace… another whipcrack broke the status quo.
– What? What the fuck?
It was another vine trying to reel her in, though with much less force, almost as if something was wrong with the plant. Katsumi noticed this and also that acid was pouring from the half open mouth to the ground.
Surprising even herself, she jumped towards the plant and started digging by its base. The vine was still trying to reel her in as her knife dug deeper and deeper, down to the plant's core. She smiled with relief as her knife hit root.
– Alright, you want me to bathe in acid? – she jumped into the mouth. – How about you first!
Katsumi let out a loud hiss as the acid reached the wound on her back. It burnt like hell, like pouring lemon into the eye. But that didn't stop her. She was determined. Splashing left and right, acid poured out of the mouth and got to the plant's root.
– Come on now! Have some! Drink it up!
The plant's mouth shook as the sucked up acid ran through its veins. Katsumi tried climbing higher so her wounds don't touch it, but before she could do that the plant shook greater. It spat out the girl and jetted the burning liquid into the air, making it rain over the crops.
Katsumi watched as the plant moved uncannily before finally losing life. Force disappeared from its mouth and the acid began evaporating.
She stood up and felt the liquid disappear. The plant too dusted away, leaving behind nothing but a hole.
'So… this is it. I won. I'm in incredible pain and the lower part of my leggings burnt to the crisp, but… I won. I killed the monster.'
/// Congratulations! ///
Level 2 Achieved!
'Nice… I wonder how high level that plant was. I'm guessing it was around… fifteen? Maybe fourteen?'
/// Bestiary ///
Level 3 Flora Type Monster
Further information required!
'AWH COME ON!'
– – –
Aeren rushed through the market as fast as he could. Even in the early morning, Titannica's town was full of life. It wasn't a surprise, as fruits were the best before the flies and bugs woke up.
– Mister Tarax! Mister Tarax! – Aeren ran towards the titan waiting by the guild, waving to get his attention from afar. – I'm here! I'm ready to go!
– Good job getting here on time, kiddo! Tell me, was Chase a good a mentor?
– Yes, the best! He taught me how to aim more accurately and even brought me some soup when we got back!
– You were talking about me? – Chase came out of the guild adjusting his belt. – I'm great and all, already knew that, haha. So ladies and gentleladies, are we ready to go?
– Wait! Where is Miss Katsumi?
– Yeah right, where is that hot fella'? – Chase sniffed the air. – Haven't seen her since yesterday. Tarax, did she die?
– Of course not. – he crouched down to Aeren. – She realized this job might not be fit for her.
– Because she's that good?
– No, that's because…
– I'm that awesome!
A deep female voice could be heard from the crowd. People had a shocked expression around her, walking by as fast as they could. It was a really messy haired person with two orange buns on her head. She wore leggings that looked like shorts and wore a black bra below her unbuttoned green uniform. Determination flamed in her eye not blinded by an eyepatch and the upturn of her nose made her smile look smugger than it actually was.
– Miss Katsumi! You're coming along? – Aeren awkwardly clapped in excitement.
– What do you think, boyo? Do I not look like a woman ready for a fight?
– Well you look… interesting, I guess.
– Hey! Give it more heart! – she yelled, but smiled shortly afterwards.
Tarax gave a doubtful look, which Katsumi saw. She frowned but not because of anger, but rather out of determination. It was time to prove her worth and she was ready to show just how good she can be.
/// Stats ///
Class: Formerly 'Cook', but due to members request renamed to 'Battlecook'