Rey’s sleep was interrupted by bright light falling on his face. It was already second half of the day, and the sun finally managed to pierce through crowns of trees, thus interrupting his sleep. Having opened his eyes, he instantly closed them with his hand, squinting with dissatisfy.
‘Dammit. I fell asleep...’
A second sorrow quickly turned into almost uncontrollable joy. The thing was that, in theory, he must had already been dead by this time.
‘No time to hurry. I should overthink it,’ slightly shocked, Rey argued with himself. ‘But what if I really got lucky? I can’t be disconnected from the game, and, moreover, I appeared in the middle of nowhere. It’d be foolish to think that all this happened because of my disease. If this was the case, they wouldn’t connect me to the game in the first place.’
Rey didn’t want to go anywhere until he makes sure that he won’t die.
He moved a little bit just to stay in a shadow of trees and started watching how the sun, slowly but surely, was descending over the horizon. Different thoughts consecutively visited his head. Rey was trying to find at least one argument which could say there is a possible that he can die soon, however, everything indicated about the opposite.
‘That’s definitely not because of a dive capsule. It doesn’t treat body with needed medicines, and with an additional load on a brain and nervous system I had to be already dead from staying in the game. And this means...’
He thought about such things more than a dozen times already, but only with coming of the evening he looked at his hands once again and started crying.
Even without understanding whom he thanks, the adult was crying like a little child, but on his face could be seen a sincere smile. Rey still hadn’t fully realized his situation, but he was incredibly happy to know that he had got another chance. The one, who had already accepted death, was given the opportunity to start everything from the beginning, moreover, to start everything in such unbelievable conditions.
Rey rejoiced for a long time, but eventually he recovered. He still had to think about a lot of things, and it required a cold mind.
‘This body is immortal, and it can’t age, this world is unknown and free from the usual laws. Even though this game won’t last forever, what the hell is the difference!?’
Rey's grandiose thinking was interrupted by his stomach rumbling. During the whole day, he didn’t eat anything; he didn’t even notice it because of the all experiences piled on him.
Laughing loudly, Rey started making plans for the nearest future, ‘First of all, I need to find another Kuring. Since I’m not even close to be a good hunter, the ability to eat leaves will be very helpful at the beginning.’
‘I should also pay some attention to my own skills; I almost don’t understand how they work. It’s even worth risking to figure it out,’ he thought with a much more serious attitude. But still, he couldn’t stop smiling so blissfully and peacefully while rubbing his chin.
The life of the man who had already died continued...
Two hours later, a small greenish brown animal was chewing a leaf, which was in its front paws. It wasn’t difficult to find a Kuring soul at all: these small animals soundly slept on branches of trees at night. During his journey in the form of a small animal, he managed to understand how Kurings choose their habitat quite well.
While chewing a leaf, Rey was thinking about the different quite important matters, ‘It’s worth killing animals only for the absorption of souls which can help me to figure out the matter with my skill. I won't be able to cook meat properly, so it’s better to eat leaves. They even have a pretty good taste.’
With a full stomach, Rey didn’t continue his journey immediately. Firstly, he returned to the already familiar field, near which for some reason weren’t any animals. He wanted to learn better how the skills of his race work. Previously, he didn’t pay much attention to this because he didn’t think of it as something necessary. However, now, when he had a potentially infinite life ahead, the faster he gets comfortable with his abilities, the better it is.
After spending the whole night experimenting and observing the souls inside him, he understood few things that he didn’t notice before. First of all, Rey understood that he had already reached the maximum number of souls that he can hold right now. The thing is that a Human soul occupied quite a big part in his inner space. It could be explained by the fact that it was much stronger than the two souls of small animals, even though it wasn’t that useful in such circumstances. Even its color was slightly different and a little lighter, although it could still be considered gray.
The size of the souls themselves was similar to the size of the animals’ bodies, but the bodies inside him were surrounded by the haze, which Rey had already seen in the moment of their death. The space inside him was comparable to the size of a small room, in the center of which was a Human soul. Previously, he didn’t pay attention to this, but now he noticed that these auras, which were surrounding the souls, don’t cross with each other, thus it was possible to make the conclusion that there simply was no more space for another soul. In fact, it seemed that even the energy surrounding his Human soul was slightly shifted to one side so that the other two souls could fit in his inner space. Rey didn’t have any clues about what to do with this, since he couldn’t influence the souls by himself. He could only observe them and choose the needed one, but he couldn’t interact with them in any way for now.
‘There are still too many things that I need to know…’
Even though he didn’t really have any ideas about how to quickly understand the principles of the work of his skills, this only increased his researcher’s enthusiasm. Obviously, he needed only one thing to progress: more souls. And it was slightly easier to get them during nighttime because with a relative effectiveness he could only hunt Kurings.
First rays of the sun pierced through a thick green foliage, showing to the world an absolutely naked person who was sitting near a body of a dead animal and absorbing its soul that had just flown out of it.
During this time, Rey realized something new: the absorbed souls of animals strengthened the soul of the same type inside him. For example, after absorbing two Kuring souls, his own soul of this animal grew in size, just like the surrounding area with energy. He himself grew a little in a Kuring form, and his body became slightly stronger. He also learned that after a certain number of absorbed souls, his Kuring soul stopped becoming stronger. At first, Rey connected it with the lack of the free space in his inner space, but later he changed his mind.
The energetic aura of a Kuring soul could also change its shape to a more compact one, just like a Human soul did. And given the fact that the growth of the soul wasn’t that big: around 30%, then the reason must be different. Rey explained this in a very simple and logical way: little ferret simply couldn’t get stronger more than this. Most likely, this happened due to the limitation of its body which couldn’t develop more.
This invention didn’t confuse him, because it had some point. Moreover, absorbed souls that couldn’t strengthen him also didn’t just disappear. After the absorption of four more Kuring souls, his thirst, that had been tormenting him already for a while in this world, practically disappeared.
Such an observation gave Rey some satisfaction, not only because he found another way to survive, but also due to the fact that the killing of defenseless animals had acquired a certain meaning now. Even though deeply inside Rey knew that they weren’t real, he couldn’t just accept this, because in this case how could he consider himself real? And it was still quite unpleasant to kill animals for him. He, the person who grew up in comfort and coziness, couldn’t just mindlessly crush little Kurings. Trying to convince himself of the demand for this, he managed to overpower his own beliefs in some way, but he still couldn’t fully accept it.
‘Probably, I can be called an evil character of a game because I need to kill living and defenseless creatures in order to develop.’
Wondering about such things, Rey felt himself slightly upset, but gradually he recovered, considering it rather as a joke. Undoubtedly, he didn’t intend to live in a Kuring body and eat leaves forever, so he would have to continue to kill animals to become stronger. And as for the developing a Human soul… Rey tried not to think about it…
Having just finished absorbing the soul of the eighth Kuring already for this night, its soul, as he expected, turned into streams of energy which made disappear his feeling of thirst and remnants of fatigue, that had accumulated during the sleepless night. But, apart from this, he also felt some change. Rey didn’t immediately understand what had exactly happened. A Kuring soul inside him remained the same as the other two. Having turned into a Kuring, he also didn’t notice anything new. He noticed the difference only by checking Status, the skill [Master of Souls] advanced to the second level.
‘And what has changed?’ Rey’s question didn’t receive any reply, and he, unfortunately, couldn’t find the difference by himself. Neither the size of the inner space, nor the appearance of the souls had changed. After waiting for some time, he became slightly disappointed. Having decided to leave this question for later, Rey turned into a Tildas. Right now, when he was overwhelmed with energy and remembered the unsuccessful experience of the last flight, even though it scared him a bit, Rey was sure that he won’t make the same mistake again. Moreover, he enjoyed the previous flying a lot, so he wasn’t going to give up such an opportunity.
Currently, Rey was standing on the ground, but he was confident that he would be able to soar right from the ground. When he was in the air, he understood what resulted his previous failures.
As expected, slightly awkwardly he managed to soar. Havign gained a height, he flew towards the same direction: to the west.
After an hour flying, Rey gained some courage and instead of straight flight started doing some turns which were supposed to improve his coordination in the air. To his own surprise, he found it not so difficult, so all his fears were unfounded. His ability to control wings became better and better, and the feeling of awkwardness and uncertainty from the earlier gradually disappeared. After another half an hour, he descended to trees and tried to fly between them, slightly slowing down.
Even though it wasn’t that easy to do, but when he managed to fly between trees, Rey became even more confident in himself. However, due to mild fatigue he decided to finish his flight. Everything this had been done in order to be able to escape in the future; a bird form was best suited for this. Also, it was quite enjoyable.
Right now, he was making circles above the small field in the forest, trying to figure out whether there are other animals around. Rey was near the same place where he had previously met the gray predator, which looked like a lion in some way, so he was pretty careful this time. Making sure that there wasn’t any animal around, he tried to hover in the air. The smooth flapping of wings had been becoming slower and slower, until he was about a meter from the ground. Rey instead of waiting for the landing just took a Human form, deftly landing on the thick grass. Coming up to a tall tree, he turned into a Kuring and climbed it. He even didn’t notice at all how he had got used to the habit of changing forms already. Rey decided to move forward only in a bird form, because it was the most effective choice. He wanted to find the end of the forest or at least some other animals.
‘I wonder, did I get here by accident? Thinking about it, there are almost no dangerous animals, moreover, this field...’
Rey had some suspicions, but he couldn’t confirm them, so he didn’t think about it for long. He decided to spend this time trying to find out what had changed with the new level of the [Master of Souls].
All he had was the name of the skill, so he logically suggested that exactly this skill allows him to absorb souls. The only rule that he could understood was that its level advanced after the tenth absorbed soul, although this could be just a coincidence. Just like before, Rey didn’t notice any visual differences, but as soon as he tried to move a little his souls, he sensed the difference. Though he couldn’t move them inside him, but something was still happening to them.
Focusing on a Kuring soul, Rey tried to understand what was happening to it right now. The whole soul trembled, but it didn’t move from one place at all. He was persistent and, after a few seconds, the soul with a faint glitter of light dispersed into the familiar to him streams of energy and disappeared in his body.
At first, Rey was surprised; such an improvement of the skill was a little bit strange. Seemingly, it allowed him to destruct existing souls. After thinking for a while, Rey still admitted that such an improvement was pretty useful. It gave the opportunity to get the energy needed for surviving and to replace one soul with another. Being pleased with the new improvement, he waited for a little, turned into a Tildas and continued his travel.
‘I wonder, how many souls do I need to upgrade this skill to the third level? And how to improve [Multifaced]? As I understand the size of the inner space depends on it?’
Unfortunately, the answers to these questions he could find only in practice.
The rising sun was shining after the Tildas flying above the endless forest.