Slowly stirring awake, Natasha rubbed her eyes with a tired grunt as she leaned her body up, the cruel realization that she was still in the dank cave struck her with resignation. How she wished everything was just a dream, no, a nightmare. They had been living in that place for almost a week now, and it was for almost a week that she hadn’t taken a bath. Fortunately, she was not the only suffering from such a fate, so although she was not feeling good, it made her mood better knowing she was not the only one stinking.
Using the rainwater to clean their bodies was not as good as she had hoped, she needed her soap and shampoo, and definitely clean clothes, but she couldn’t be nitpicky right now.
Stifling a yawn, she stretched her joints, which popped in satisfaction. Peering over from her position she noticed that everyone was asleep, aside John who seemed to be hunting, something they were grateful for. Blinking, she redirected her eyesight on Stephen who had just stood up and picked his blood-stained sword up, ready to fare out.
Her lips curved up into a pleased smile when she saw that he was about to mingle with John in his endeavors, which they had been partaking in rather frequently. Nobody was happier than her knowing they didn’t need to concern themselves about food or water, but she felt kinda ashamed for not proving herself to be more useful aside cooking the meat, something she was sure they were perfectly capable of even without her help.
Quietly sneaking away, she decided to at least wish him a safe hunt, but by the time she had made up her mind, the younger man was nowhere in sight. Frowning, she stepped out of the cave, hugging herself against the wind as she scanned the so-called ‘Safe Zone’ John had explained to the group a couple of days prior. They were clueless as for what was prowling further away from it since the older man had been very cursory regarding his information.
Striding through the brushes, she caught Stephen’s form staving off in the distance, the dense underbrush almost covering him altogether. He was definitely out of the ‘Safe Zone’ which perplexed her. She thought that it was dangerous out there, but here he was calmly loitering around it like it was his house’s backyard.
“Stephen!” she cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled, hoping for him to turn around and notice her presence, “Stephen!!” the constant crack of thunders muffled her intentions of getting ahold of his attention, and before long his form wasn’t discernable anymore, utterly cloaked by the dense foliage and shrubbery.
Growling in annoyance, she stubbornly threaded through the same path he had just walked on with haste whilst trying not to trip over.
Thunderclaps kept on rumbling out as the sky darkened. Natasha shivered, wrapping her arms around herself in an attempt to fend off the cold, or the fear that was currently blowing its freezing breath down her spine, she wasn’t sure. Her face twisted into a hesitant frown before she decided to go back, she could always get up earlier the next morning so as to accomplish her unfulfilled duty.
Turning around, she froze in her steps, her face scrunching up in petrifying fear. In front of her was a greenish short-sized humanoid creature, its ugly features and jagged teeth were way too familiar to her still processing mind. Definitely, one of the worst memories she’d bring back to Manhattan if she’d ever had the chance to actually go back.
One hand was holding onto a wooden and aged scepter, a dull crimson gem fixed on its top. Shabby black robes were draped over its shoulders, way too big for its weak and skinny frame.
“Grrrgh…” it rattled out menacingly as it lifted the wooden scepter up, the dull gem glistened for a moment before a fireball magically spawned mid-air, defying gravity. Natasha covered her mouth, an involuntary gasp quenching the squeak of fright that was about to slip past her lips. To say that she was aghast would have been an underrated statement.
The orb of fire suddenly bustled up as it darted towards her at a basketball throw-like speed, something she managed to avoid by a breath’s air as she ducked under it, the rolling heat caressing her waving hair before the fire slammed onto a small chunk of grass, lighting it up.
Wasting no time, she recovered from her surprise as she started running away from the creature back to the safe zone, which prompted it to chase after her.
Glimpsing back, she noticed another ball of fire hurtling at her. She unconsciously threw herself out of its aim, her hands bracing themselves for the impact against the jagged ground. With a dull thud, she flopped down, her elbows and palms bearing the consequences of her action as a bit of blood dribbled down onto the soil from her bruises.
“Ugh…” she groaned out, her wobbly legs trying to stand back up.
The creature arrived in front of her, slightly short-winded, its shoulders quivering up and down. It snarled, raising the scepter up again, however, instead of the fireball it used to fling at her, a very small fire sparked to life, just a bit bigger than the fire of a lighter.
Natasha’s eyes locked onto that tiny fireball before a grin marred her pretty features, “It seems you’ve ran out of energy too, haven’t you?” she was angry, no, it was something inside of her that was raging, furious, ignited, hungry. And it was burning for revenge.
Mustering all the strength she had left, she forced herself to stand straight before launching herself at the creature just as the fire flew at her, its speed drastically slower than before. She didn’t bother to dodge it, all of her focus was set on that thirst to vent her anger upon its, now scared, perpetrator.
Feeling a sting above her left eye to which she ignored, she clutched, with surprising strength, the humanoid creature’s thin waist, and proceeded to push it down onto the soil. It roared out, trying to scratch Natasha and hoping that making her feel pain would free it, but she was busy snatching the scepter from its hand, not bothering to deal with its futile attempts to hurt her.
Finally getting ahold of it, she used her free hand and knees to shift the weight of her body upon its smaller one, making it be rooted supinely in place. Natasha giggled as she started pounding its head with the bottom tip of the wooden scepter, that, albeit not sharp, was enough to injure the creature.
“How do you like that!?” she smashed the scepter on its slowly rupturing skull, blood sprinkling out, “Is it good!? Tell me, you c***-sucking m***********!” she cursed with a snarl, something she would have never done if she was in her senses, but unfortunately for the creature, she was hellbent on getting her revenge.
Smiling, she tightly grabbed the wooden shaft of the scepter, and aimed its bloodied tip on the creature’s softest spot, its eyes. Drilling it down, the tip made contact with the eyeball, bursting it instantly as the short-sized humanoid wailed with a disturbing shriek that could have made anyone feel how much pain whoever was enduring that torture from the voice alone. Blood splashed on her face as a flash of lightning suddenly roared in the sky. The clouds gathered, ready to drop a downpour, as if to wash the gruesome scene beneath.
Yellow pus flowed out of the creature’s messy eyesocket, and shortly after it stopped squirming with a final death rattle. Trembling, Natasha lobbed away the scepter, tears cornering her wavering eyes. Looking at her blood-stained shaking hands, she opened her mouth, but no voice came out as she choked on the air, the heavy tang of blood made her stomach turn upside down. Scurrying away from the corpse she turned around and retched with unladylike sounds.
The awareness of what she had done hit her like a freight as she slumped down in a fit of sobs. Her body started feeling weird, her vision spinning. Trying to get a hold of herself, she noticed something hovering afore her bloodshot eyes.[You have awakened.]
Puzzled, her eyelids fluttered closed before darkness encompassed her mind. It was in that moment that droplets of water started showering down from the dark lining of clouds overhead, announcing the arrival of yet another rainstorm that would have haunted the forest for many hours to come.
[You have gained 1 point in Dexterity.] [Light Step has reached Lv.5] [Basic Sword Arts has reached Lv.5] [You have gained 1% in Evolution.] [You have killed a total of 10 ‘One-Horned Rabbit’, extract bloodline?]
Stephen looked at the screens, feeling satisfied with his gains. It had been several days since he started hunting, and although at first, he was a bit skeptical about it, he quickly noticed his body strengthening on its own. After every successful hunt, the euphoria drugged him in its tempting embrace and coaxed him into killing and eating more. He liked it, the power, the despaired look on his preys’ eyes as he asserted his dominance over them, something so primal and ancient, yet he knew it was not wrong.
The more he got it, the more he wanted it.
Studying the last screen, he was curious, it was something he had never gotten before. He had been killing only rabbits, something that seemed to hinder his progress as his skills were leveling at a slower pace than usual, and he hardly got that 1% in Evolution and 1 point in Dexterity anymore. Now that he thought about it, he didn’t know what that evolution thing entailed, and how it would affect him, but it didn’t seem a negative thing, so he never bothered paying it more attention than he already had.
Thinking how to answer the screen’s question, he tried saying ‘Yes’ aloud, and it seemed to work for the screen suddenly dissolved into black smoke that whirled around his body before seeping into his nose and mouth, prompting his body to jerk backward.
Falling down, he felt an abrupt pain washing over his body and mind before it vanished as quickly as it came.[You have extracted ‘One-Horned Rabbit’ bloodline.] [You have gained 5 points in Dexterity.] [You have gained the skill Footwork, Lv.1]
Readying himself for a memory that didn’t come, he frowned. Standing back up, he looked at his legs, they felt so light yet so full of power that he was itching to try his newfound power out. Grinning, he dashed in a random direction, relishing in the surprisingly quick speed he was running at, the wind comfortably fondling his face. At this point, he was sure he was faster than the fastest man in the world, “Hah! Take that, Usain Bolt.” he cackled.
Actually, not only was he faster, even his sword swings were quicker and swifter, which was the reason why he was able to dispose of those rabbits so easily. His hands could move so fast those small furballs had literally almost no time to react before their heads were severed by his blade. The increase in Dexterity and in his skills was slowly morphing him into a superhuman.
Thunders rumbled in the sky as a droplet of water glided on his forehead and trailed half of his face before trickling down onto the ground.
Looking up, he mumbled to himself, “Hmm, it seems hunt time came to an end.” he didn’t dare to stay there during rainstorms, it usually was the time when bigger preys would creep out, and he wasn’t stupid enough to confront them. The image of that snake still lingered in his head, and he knew he was no match for it. But he was sure that the day would come when he’d prey on it.
Picking his harvest up, he headed back with a grin.