A Forest man dressed in armor and a huge black panther were hiding in dense thickets. They were three hundred meters away from one of the largest trees in this Forest.
"Go ahead, Cess," a quiet voice reached the ears of the panther, forcing it to turn its head and look at its owner. There could be seen a misunderstanding in the eyes of the panther. However, it was always like that... always...
Upon mentally repeating the order, Rey watched how his only companion started to slowly approach the huge tree.
‘Why can’t you understand me?’ this thought flashed in Rey’s head once again, but the panther still reacted only to his mental commands.
Taking out a longbow from the Inventory, he loaded it with an arrow and started to wait.
After half an hour, a silhouette of an animal finally appeared in the sky. Rey had been staying here for the fourth day already, studying habits of this bird.
The foliage on a huge tree swayed because of strong gusts of wind created by a pair of wings, the span of which reached fifteen meters. The hawk gradually lowered, approaching the top of the tree. Every time it stopped exactly at the same tree in this Forest. At that moment, when the hawk was about to land, a green flash of light appeared somewhere in the Forest. Thanks to its sharp vision, the hawk easily noticed the arrow flying right into it.
One flap of the huge wings and the hawk successfully left the trajectory of an approaching projectile. However, at the same moment, the same flash of green light turned in the air, flying directly to the hawk again. The bird was clearly surprised. Covering its head with one of the wings, the hawk could no longer see how, with the next flash of light, several dozen of arrows appeared instead of a single one.
With a painful squeal, the hawk started falling; one of its wings could not move due to the many holes in it. With loud cracks, branches of the tree started to break under the pressure of the weight of the bird. This continued until its huge carcass fell to the ground, with a loud thud.
Trying to get up, the hawk realized that one of its legs was also injured, probably broken. It turned its head towards the direction from where the arrow came from and screamed. At the same moment, the bird suddenly felt pain in its last untouched wing. Turning its head, the hawk realized that there also was the black panther, which silently sneaked up and attacked it from another side.
Upon dodging the beak of the enraged bird, Cess moved away from it, waiting for the appearance of the master, who, as the panther could feel, was already close.
A few seconds later, an arrow came from the thicket, which was fifty meters away from the place of the falling, and got right in the eye of the hawk, causing it to release another heart-piercing scream.
Arrows continued to appear until the archer himself came out. After the fifth shot, Rey stopped, noticing that the bird still did not die. Calling Cess, he lowered his bow and started to wait.
Only after tens of seconds he raised the bow again and released another arrow, but this time the arrow left a vague green trace behind itself. Without any problems, the arrow hit the beast’s eye and completely entered in it. After that, the hawk calmed down.
The soul, which came out from its body, was completely white, making Rey to show a satisfied face.
“Well done, Cess. Do you want to taste this bird?”
Rey talked with his pet all the time, although he realized that Cess did not understand him. He just wanted to talk with someone and this panther was his only friend, who saved him many times and even managed to earn name.
Taking the soul of the bird, Rey took off his armor. This soul was different from the other, so he intended to use this soul himself. Rey had never met a single one like that during all the months of his staying in the Forest.
The hawk's feathers had pale yellow color; its sharp beak was almost a meter long. And its claws were very sharp and dangerous; it seemed that they could even tear Cess’ skin.
Being in a new body, Rey tried to flap his wings. The feelings were completely different comparing to the body of a Tildas, which he had used until now. Although this bird had only two wings, it was many times faster than the others in speed.
The huge hawk slowly flew up, reaching a height of several kilometers. Correcting his position, Rey spread both of his wings and gave himself to the wind. Even from such a height he could clearly see the vast plain, which was located right behind the Forest. Rey reached it a month ago, when the summer just began. However, he did not decide to go there, because it seemed that there were not any living creatures. Moreover, the Forest also became pretty safe closer to its edges, but creatures living in its depths could horrify even the most strong and brave hunters. It was difficult to count how many times Rey had to run away, breaking his legs and relying on his pet.
There even was a case when he wandered into a thicket with living plants. Or another one when he found a habitat of strange four-legged stone creatures, whose skin he could not even scratch.
Mostly the Forest was filled with danger everywhere, but the experience and strength, which he accumulated during these days, gave Rey the opportunity to pave the way for himself and make his own future. There was only one problem that forced him to stare at the plain from time to time. The problem which became only sharper over time. And name of this problem was loneliness.
The sun brightly illuminated the endless green space. Looking at the horizon for the last time, Rey was about to start to descent, but at this moment he noticed a small black dot moving through the green sea of grass.
Slightly lowering, the Hawk moved towards something new. And after a minute of flight, the dot turned into a spot, and only then it transformed into a big mounted squad of people.
They were separated by tens of kilometers, but the hawk’s vision was good enough for Rey to clearly see this group, consisted of hundreds of horsemen. Without getting closer to them, he turned and flew back, because Cess still waited for him there.
Having fallen to the ground, since he still did not get used to the process of landing in this form, Rey immediately turned into a Forest person and put on his armor, which already pretty worn out during countless battles.
Putting on his boot, he turned to the panther, “Are you ready, my friend? We’ll leave this Forest soon.”
Upon stopping eating the carcass of the hawk, Cess glanced at the master and turned back to the carcass, tearing out another piece of meat from it and growling with displeasure.
Rey knew that his friend did not like to be distracted from meal, so he silently waited for Cess to finish. At this moment, he realized that he still did not check name of the new soul.
[Master of Souls, 5 level]
[Multifaced, 3 level] (Desert Hawk, Heavenly Tildas, Human, Kuring, Representative of the Faros Forest, Snow Snake, Sun Devourer...)
[Archer, 6 level] (Rainfall, Shooting Range Increase 4.5x, Strengthened Shot, Trajectory Correction)
[Daggers Mastery, 5 level] (Cleave, Haste, Retreat, Piercing 2x)
[Hunter, 7 level] (Animal Detection, Damage to Animals 3x, Disappearance, Mark of the Hunter, Submission *Devil’s Panther*, Trap)
[Rider, 2 level] (Tirelessness 3x)
[Slick, 3 level] (Better Jump 2x, Rush)
[Throwing: Daggers, 4 level] (Return, Throwing Range Increase 2x, Shot)
‘Oh, that explains its color. He flew here right from the desert,’ when Rey though about this, he realized that he stopped hearing the chewing sounds coming from the side of the Desert Hawk's carcass.
Turning his head, Rey noticed that the panther walked towards him, licking its muzzle with a pleased look. Having walked up to Rey, the panther laid nearby.
After checking the handmade reins, which he made from an armor of the Forest folk and ropes, Rey climbed onto Cess’ back.
‘Don’t be hasty,’ upon giving a mental order, Rey squeezed the panther’s torso with his legs. He could ride it only this way, because if Cess would move too fast, he would simply fall. Though this problem could be solved by adding some ropes to his body, but Rey did not really want to limit mobility of his pet. Moreover, he did not have an idea how to properly place them, because such powerful muscles of the panther could break ropes with the first movement.