The words of God still lingered in my mind, almost like an imprint, I was able to bring them up at the forefront of my attention at any given moment. It was a strange feeling. The time that was counting down still remained within my vision, it seemed like it was not going to go away any time soon. I took a deep breath to try to understand my situation, once again, taking in my surroundings.
Grass that reached up to my ankles was ever-present, and upon further observation I was standing in a small clearing in the forest, which wasn’t great. The moonlight shone down upon me, as a myriad of stars twinkled overhead. In spite of it being night the forest brimmed with life.
I gripped my bow and flung the quiver over my shoulder, the dozens of wooden arrows rattled as they hit each other. The normally pleasant sound was a grim reminder of the fact that I would not be able to scavenge for more arrows — a full quiver was all I had. My heart raced ever so slightly, I took in fresh air and the sounds of the forest. Everything was new, but just a single look at the timer in my vision told me everything.
I had to keep moving.
I was standing on a clearing exposed to the elements. With that in mind I slowly walked through the grass to the nearest tree, there was concern and mild fear of the unknown going through my mind, but I never stopped moving. Eventually I reached the tree and slowly climbed atop of it. Its rough bark held a sense of familiarity for me, though in comparison to the trees I was familiar with, its bark was considerably more humid.
The climb was hard, the diameter of the tree was about three times thicker than what I was used to. Thankfully its rough texture allowed me to still make my way to the lowest branch, though even then, it was about ten meters high. It offered no vantage points considering every single tree was just as tall, but I was at least hidden away — away from the potential dangers of the forest. Possibly away. There always existed the possibility of a hostile animal whose habitat was the branches and tree crowns, which I hoped wasn’t the case.
Time passed as I debated whether to stay on guard or to try sleeping. I couldn’t decide on either. Sleeping would allow me to adhere to my natural cycle, and staying on guard prevented danger. I was too inexperienced to make a choice, and the worst part had to be the fact that I simply didn’t understand what was actually happening. I recalled the words in my head, instantly they came to life in my mind.
I read the first paragraph, which already caused slight trouble.
[You’re classified as an Invader representing the world of Foresia, as an invader of a new land you must claim territory and turn it into part of your world. Cooperation between those of the same world is highly-advised.]
Did the first paragraph mean that as an invader every other elf was also an ally? That sounded troublesome. What would happen if I attacked an ally? Betrayal? I didn’t particularly understand the meaning of cooperation in this context, perhaps it was superficial, but perhaps there was also a type of punishment for not abiding by the rules. There also existed the worry of whether things were real, but I shoved that to the back of my mind, the words of God were enough for now.
I looked at the second paragraph next.
[While this new world forms and undergoes Voting Interference, a skirmish space mimicking the environment will be generated for the denizens of the worlds. Advantages acquired during this period are permanent.]
I didn’t know what ‘Voting Interference’ meant, but I understood the rest for the most part. If I got it right, the space I was currently in; the forest and animal sounds I was hearing — they were all part of the mimicked environment. Which also meant that the New World was going to be much the same. If I familiarized myself with this… I looked around, skirmish space, then surviving once the incubation period is over will be much easier.
Though there was more information in the paragraph. I didn’t understand what it meant by advantages; what sort of advantage could I obtain? Permanent advantages sounded great, but I still didn’t understand how I could even acquire them.
Though— part of me felt it was pointless to ponder about such things. I simply have to survive. I couldn’t really take revenge aside from getting stronger and maybe kill a few elves. I barely knew how to hunt animals, let alone killing other people. And yet, I wanted revenge, but I understood that it was nigh impossible.
I closed my eyes and read the final sentence.
[May fate choose your planet as the victor or may Equilibrium be reached.]
Part of it said that only one planet could win, and the other one just spoke of an equilibrium. Needless to say I also did not understand what it meant for the most part.
A sigh left me, my situation was truly messy. But… Wouldn’t others be in the same situation? The elves? I smiled to myself knowing that they had about the same amount of knowledge as I did.
A distant rustling sound entered my ears eliciting a twitch from them. My attention was drawn back to reality as I looked off into the far distance, to the other side of the clearing. Even though the wind was blowing, the rustling was uneven and unnatural, it was different than normal. There was something there. I grabbed my bow and nocked an arrow; ready to be fired. I tentatively held onto the string with bated breath as I awaited.
Seconds passed, and soon I caught a glimpse of something, it was dark and imposing, standing at a ridiculous height. It stood at about one third of the distance in between the lowest branch and the ground. Three meters? My mind tried to not believe it, but it marched forth with its four legs ever so slowly.
Its legs were ghastly like sticks, brown and covered in fur. It moved forth as I got to see more of its body; a trunk of a torso with dangling fat that reminded me of the biggest predators I had ever seen. Two horns that were reminiscent of a crown of the forest perched atop its head, and its face was elongated, its snout rounded with a pair of beady soulless eyes.
What kind of animal is that?
My mind couldn’t comprehend how a beast so big could walk like that. How much does it even weigh? It eventually reached farther into the clearing, at about the halfway point the moonlight shone directly on it— there was blood. I drew a sharp breath as I saw flesh dangling down its elongated horns, it was mixed with chunks of flesh. Had it— Impaled or killed something?
I felt my heartbeat quicken, but attempted to calm myself down with the fact that it hadn’t seen me yet. As long as I stayed on the branch it would ignore me and pass— The animal was looking at me, it simply stared as I stopped breathing. If I didn’t move— The animal charged forth, the flesh dangling as if it was glued onto its horns. In no less than a few moments, it crashed against the tree.
The greenery heavily rustled, and I felt the branch I was standing on wobble ever so slightly. I drew the arrow back in a hurry, and aimed at its eyes hoping that the arrow would have enough strength to go right through its skull. I tensed the bow with all the strength I could muster, the animal drew back and hit the tree once again causing me to panic. I let go of the arrow prematurely, hitting the top of its snout instead. It deeply embedded itself into what I assumed was its nose.
The animal bellowed in pain as I nocked another arrow. My fingers trembled. I am safe. It cannot reach me. I convinced myself of something I believed to be the truth. I fired another arrow, this time aiming at its torso. The arrow went deep as another pained yelp came from it.
It kept smashing onto the tree with futile strength, it was a far cry compared to the initial charge. The arrows kept piling onto its torso. As the blood kept oozing out I felt myself growing much more relaxed. I was safe on the tree branch. Part of me started hoping the animal would just leave as the arrows dwindled from my quiver. But alas, it seemed to be bent on attacking me.
To make it worse it felt as if it had an inexhaustible supply of blood. I aimed another arrow, this time trying to smash through its eye. As I lined up the shot something strange happened. The animal that had been mindlessly ramming into the tree stopped and simply walked back, it stared at me with its dead-cold eyes, and I saw a blue glint of intelligence, or so I believed. Instead, it exhaled a pale blue mist through its snout. A blue hue ran through its entire body as its veins were lit like bioluminescent plants.
I let go of the arrow, but the animal charged once again. This time it raised its hind legs and hopped. The light coalesced at the base of its forelegs and they landed on air. The light leaked to make an effervescent platform of immaterial blue mist. It hopped again, and again, directly charging towards me.
My mind went blank for a second. It was an accursed magical animal, one of legends that I had only ever heard during my childhood. I awoke from my stupor as the animal loomed closer and managed to jump out of the way, further away from the trunk of the tree. The animal crashed against the branch, a flare of unbelievable pain shot through my sides as its horn tore a large gash through my clothes.
The branch collapsed and I dropped onto the ground. I barely managed to land on my legs as pain shot through my bones. I gasped for air before remembering the situation I was in. I am going to die. I looked at the flying animal as it flew through the air and spun to face me once again. I was going to die. My mind panicked, but at that moment, as it charged towards me in a nose-dive I remembered my family and those I missed. I remembered revenge, and I remembered that I had to survive.
I rolled out of the way with my bow and quiver, half of the leftover arrows spilling out in the process. The animal crashed against the damp ground, sliding through the dirt and grass for a few meters before finally stopping. As it stood up, the light coursing through its body slowly dimmed before finally vanishing. It couldn’t fly anymore?
The animal once again looked at me with its dark-abyssal eyes, and as if nothing had ever happened. It charged towards me. I nocked an arrow and aimed in its direction before letting it go. The string flickered as the arrow was fired, it flew before piercing right through its eye at an odd angle.
The animal wobbled and tripped before landing in front of me. I had to run away now— contrary to my thoughts I let go of the bow and gripped onto my knife that I had brought with me. I jumped onto its hulking body, quickly realizing that while laying down it was just as tall as me. My hands moved on its own as the knife plunged into its neck and pulled, its flesh rending as it bellowed in pain.
The animal shook me off and rose, the knife stayed embedded inside its neck. It stared at me once again, its body and grass was covered in blood. I felt a shiver run down my spine. At that moment I also felt a sudden warmth on my torso. I was bleeding— right I had been injured by its horn. The adrenaline rush had somewhat gone down. The animal stared at me for a few moments before getting ready to charge once again.
I took deep shallow breaths and tried to think of a solution. The arrows in my quiver rattled. That's right— I still had my bow. The grass was completely razed from where my bow was, the only thing leftover was dirt. The problem was the bow was in between me and the animal. I took a deep breath as a plan formed in my head.
It was crazy. But it might just work. I tentatively slid my boot through the dirt, feeling the lack of grip. It might just work. I chanted in my head as the animal inched closer. I felt warmth in my head during those brief moments. The animal charged and I ran towards it, it flicked its head to impale me with its horns, and at that moment I slid diagonally from it.
Its horn grazed through my left arm, pain shot through me. I felt the sudden warmth that I identified as bleeding run down through it. But I didn’t flinch as I grabbed my bow and nocked an arrow. I aimed, feeling the exacerbating and numbing pain go through my arm from putting strength through the injuries. The animal spun, and at that moment I felt as if all the noise and wind was blocked. I took a deep breath and shot as the animal began to charge once again.
The arrow flew, drawing an almost impossible trajectory as it hit its other eye, pierced. The animal yelped in pain but this time around continued its charge, this time with much more rage than ever before. I jumped out of the way, my feet slipped from the lack of grip and the animal passed, stepping on one of my legs before crashing onto a tree.
I could hardly breathe anymore as I felt the blood run down through my body. I looked at the animal that tried to turn around, but its legs wobbled. And finally— it collapsed.
I survived. I wanted to laugh, but the relief was overwhelming. I had survived. I laid on the ground basking on the warmth and the tremble of my overexerted muscles.
[You have killed: (E) Everwood Moose. Lvl 5.]
The voice returned.
[Level up: You have achieved level 1.]
[Level up: You have achieved level 2.]
[Congratulations Initiator! By reaching level ‘2’ you are entitled to a ‘Medium’ Guided Tour of The System. Would you like to start? Yes or no. Skipping this opportunity means forfeiting it forever.]