Revolve - Chapter 11
It felt like nature itself was against the group of the hunters. With the coming of evening, heavy snowfall begun. It noticeably slowed down their speed. The snowfall lasted for several hours and ended only late at night. With the end of the snowfall, Corvus instructed his people to set up a camp and take a rest. Every hunter in their group was busy with something, starting from collecting brushwood for a bonfire and ending with making food.
This night was extremely dark; light of the moon couldn’t pierce through thick clouds. Only light from the bonfire was keeping them out of darkness. However, such a situation was quite familiar to the experienced hunters.
“It’s lucky that the storm has ended, otherwise we’d have to look for a better place,” the strict voice of the leader broke the silence. Everyone was tired, and currently they were resting under crowns of three trees, between which there was the bonfire.
“That’s true, but maybe we should have continued moving? The village is already close.”
“No, all of us are very tired. Nothing will change, if we’ll arrive in the village tomorrow in the morning.”
At this moment, the hunter, who was busy with cooking meat, called others to say that everything is ready. When everyone was at the bonfire, he took several branches with roasted meat and handed them to others.
“It’s pretty late already, let's have dinner.”
As expected, the hunters quickly finished eating food, although there was no need for hurry. After eating, Corvus said, “Zarim, I understand that you are tired, but today we'll be staying on guard together.”
“Yes, uncle. I won't let you down.”
Having nodded to his nephew, Corvus sat down not far away from the bonfire, holding his bow in his hands. Zarim did the same, but he was at the other end of the camp.
Rey had been spying on them for almost two hours. There still was some time till the coming of dawn, so he still had some time to prepare. Right now, he got much closer to them; he was somewhere about ten meters away from the nearest forest man. During this time, Rey noticed different details in the behavior of the hunter in the hood. This hunter was the only real hindrance for him.
‘Seems like another hunter on guard is still a newbie.’
Rey came to this conclusion because of the actions of the leader of this group. The hunter in the hood had been constantly checking with his gaze whether his fellow had fallen asleep. Additionally, almost every five minute he made a short camp check and from time to time filled the bonfire with new brushwood. At first, Rey consider this as a real problem, but after some time he changed his mind because of the fact that the seemingly inexperienced hunter really fell asleep. However, his older comrade didn’t notice this because the young guy was sitting at the same pose as if he still was awake. But Rey could clearly say that he was sleeping because the amount of heat from his body was the same as that of his four sleeping fellows.
‘You’ve made everything so easy for me.’
Having mentally thanked him, Rey silently crawled to the nearest tree, moving to the other end of the camp, where the leader was.
Remaining of the wind from the snowfall still was in the forest; the wind’s whistle made the whole atmosphere even more oppressive. Moreover, the wind created such a need for Rey noise. These creatures had abnormally good hearing; there even was a chance that they would hear his wrong movements while sleeping. However, such weather helped him a lot, and he was already five meters away from the unsuspecting hunter, who was looking into surrounding darkness. The poor old man didn’t even suspect that the danger had been waiting for him already.
Rey didn’t hesitate for a long because he was afraid that the hunter’s instincts could notice him sooner or later. After waiting for the hunter to turn his head in the opposite direction, he quickly but carefully shortened the distance. The strong wind was a perfect partner for the snake, who wasn’t making almost any noise by itself.
To Rey’s surprise, the hunter’s hand in the blink of an eye reached his belt, where there was a small sheath. Rey was already at a distance of less than one meter. Rey was sure that he hadn’t done any wrong moves to expose himself; he just, seemingly, underestimated his opponent.
Unfortunately, at the very moment when Corvus grabbed his dagger and opened his mouth to wake up the others, he didn’t manage to do anything. Just a moment, but it was undoubtedly the scariest moment in his whole life. None of the animals which he had fought for his long life didn’t scare him as much as the white eyes of this snake, which the hunter had noticed only when it was a few inches from his face. Having felt pain in his neck, he didn’t manage to do anything.
“Ugh...” a silent moan of the group leader lost in the whistle of the wind; his vocal cords were paralyzed. Rey stopped injecting poison with his fangs only when the eyes of the hunter went blank. The body of the hunter fell, making pretty loud noise. Rey didn’t expect that the hunter on guard would notice him, forcing him to slightly change his original plan.
Rey calmly looked at the five sleeping men; fortunately, none of them moved.
‘That was your last chance.’
Having changed his form and absorbed Corvus' soul, Rey immediately went to another hunter. Four of the sleeping men were relatively close to each other, so it didn’t take much time for Rey to bite all of them. A few quick bites, and there were left only few corpses, quickly cooling in the winter, instead of bunch of sleeping hunters. Rey turned back into a Human and absorbed their souls.
“No!” just when he was about to finish absorbing the last of them, Rey heard a loud scream coming from somewhere on the side. Having turned his head, he noticed that the inexperienced hunter was looking directly at him, holding his bow in his hands with an arrow ready. Without waiting, Rey rushed straight to him. Although there were left only three meters of distance between them, he didn’t decide to risk. Even before the arrow was launched into him, Rey turned into a Gsarh. The surprise, which appeared in the eyes of the young hunter, remained there even after his head had been separated from his body.
For a moment Rey had been watching blood dripping from his claws before he returned to the absorption of the same gray soul of the still young man. After that, he glanced at the other bodies.
‘Finally, there is a use for Inventory.’
Collecting clothes and weapons from the dead bodies, Rey once again praised the quality of the equipment, ‘Such a strong but very light material at the same time.’
Putting on himself Corvus’ armor with the hood, Rey found it much better than the equipment of the other hunters. Little did Rey know that the hood was a symbol of strength among the forest people. Moreover, only most worthy warriors were allowed to wear it. The long dagger, which was placed in the good sheath, was made of a green and unknown to Rey material. Doubtfully looking at the blade in his hand, he hit a tree with it. The weapon without any visible resistance passed through the bark, stopping only when it stuck inside the tree by almost two of its width.
‘Not bad,’ Rey praised the weapon in his head. 'It’s a pity that I don’t know how to wield it properly and there is no one who can teach me this.’
Having put the dagger in his Inventory, just like he did with the equipment of the other hunters, Rey finally checked his Status. The first thing that he noticed was that the skill [Master of Souls] advanced to the third level.
‘These guys have been really useful... By the way, what are their names?’
Looking at Status once again, Rey noticed another change.
“Inhabitant of the Faros Forest,” having quietly pronounced the unfamiliar name, he nodded.
‘Well, at least now I know where I am. On the other side, it’s a pity that they didn’t leave a hint to learn what part of the world it is. Even though it wouldn’t change anything…’
The strange part was that the name of the new soul was mentioned four times in his Status. A second later, when he mentally checked the space with souls, he understood a little about the reason. Right now, apart from the four old souls that were there before, there were also four similar souls inside. One of the souls of Inhabitants of the Faros Forest was slightly lighter than other three, but in general all the souls were still gray, although it wouldn’t be a big exaggeration to call them close to white. The similar color had the soul of a Snow Snake.
‘Interesting, now they don’t disappear by themselves.’
Back then, when growth of a soul reached its limit, all other souls of the same type turned into energy after absorption.
‘It could be explained by the fact that the forest people have intelligence and their own personality, but the first three souls still merged into one.’
‘Most likely, it happened due to the advance of the skill [Master of Souls].’
The night hadn’t ended yet. Sitting near the still burning bonfire, Rey put rest of wood into it and focused on the souls inside him. This time he immediately found the difference; he could move souls along his inner space now.
‘This can’t be all, right?’
Trying to move all the souls within himself, Rey realized that he couldn’t move only his Human soul. After a while, he came to the conclusion that with the advance of the skill he only acquired the ability to move souls.
‘Hmm, maybe this ability will be useful for the next levels,’ thinking about this, Rey opened his Inventory and took out the hunter’s bag. Inside it there was a small knife made of the same green material, which more reminded a crystal than a metal, a flask with odd liquid, a small bunch of dry grass, the purpose of which was unknown to Rey, a thin but strong rope, and few more things, which seemed quite ordinary to be interested in them.
Taking a little bit of the dry grass with his hand, he sniffed and even tasted it.
‘Can it be some kind of medicinal herbs?’
After a moment, Rey realized that the use for this herb was much simple. When he slightly rubbed it with his fingers, the dry grass caught fire by itself.
‘That explains how they built the bonfire in such weather.’
Putting back the dry grass, Rey took out the bottle just to instantly put it back after opening it.
‘This can be anything, starting from juice and ending with poison.’
Rey didn’t even touch the bow. If everything with the sword was more or less clear for him, then when it comes to this type of a weapon... He didn’t even know how to hold it properly.
Rey got up on his feet and focused on the souls inside him once again. He mentally chose the strongest soul of the forest people.
It didn’t take long to find differences. His vision became almost as clear as it was in the daytime; he could clearly hear all the surrounding noise with his ears, and the smell of blood, which he didn't even feel earlier, was as clear as if blood was poured right on his face.
‘Even better than animals. No wonder that the hunter managed to notice me.’
Looking at his hands, Rey saw that now he had short claws instead of nails. As for the rest, there almost weren’t any differences from a usual human, except for slightly darker skin. Another interesting thing was that the clothes still remained on him even after transformation. It meant that before changing forms he would have to undress now.
Having put things in his Inventory, Rey looked at the devastated camp for the last time. There were left only carcasses of dead animals, the six bodies of the forest people, and the gradually darkening bonfire.
A few minutes later, an unclear silhouette of a Ttildas could be noticed in the sky.
‘I think that the way to their settlement will take one day more. If I get lucky, it won’t be too big,’ with such thoughts Rey continued to fly towards the same direction, in which he had been moving for the whole day.