4 Blood Bath
The Great Forest is said to have been around since the world was created. Some spoke tales of it being the home of Gods. But alas, not one could prove it. There have been no official records of anyone reaching the center of the forest and making it back. After a certain point, people seem to just…disappear.
Try as we may, we cannot get in. The kingdom even tried cutting a path all the way to the center. In the first day alone, hundreds of mountain size trees were cut down and moved with magic. Yet the very next day, all the trees were back at full size again. Touching the sky. The wood from the fallen trees seemed to just vanish. Presumably going back to reconstruct the forest that the kingdom cut down. And so to this day, and most likely long into the future, the Great Forest will remain a marvelous mystery.
-Anonymous Scholar of the Yomar Kingdom.
Our little house is not far from the Great Forest. You could honestly say that it is our backyard. Most monsters do not travel past the tree line, giving us the convince of living close to the area we hunt in. Although I have been through this forest several times, I still cannot help but feel astonished. Maybe it's the arrival of a new 'me' that gives me these feelings? Everything in the Great Forest is several times larger than on Earth. The most eye catching of this is of course the trees. Only one word can describe them for what they are, mythical. Some even say that in the center of the forest the trees even reach up to the clouds. Sadly, no one in my family has been that far into the forest.
As we walk deeper into the forest, the sun rays beam down through the leaves, lighting the brilliant plants around us. Mushrooms and flowers are transparent and glow. Grass lights up the ground, even in the night. Looking up, you can see bird type monsters, and things that look somewhat similar to longer bodied squirrels, moving from branch to branch. Only one thing could possibly ruin the scenes of this beautiful forest…
"Hut hut! Lets go! Get a movin!" Ann is constantly urging me to go faster by 'playfully' slapping my back with her shield.
"Would you stop! How are we going to find anything to hunt with you being so loud? And stop hitting me with your shield!"
"OW! That was my head you moron!"
"Whoops. Totally on accident…totally…"
With a now splitting headache, I look to our parents for help, but they seem to be giggling and enjoying the sight. 'I swear…one day…'. I can't help but sigh in frustration.
About two hours in and we have reached an area that seems to have had a recent battle. Since I am technically in charge of our hunt today, I walk up and examine the carnage. First off, there is blood everywhere. Claw marks have ripped up the soil and left foot deep gashes in the trees. There seems to be occasional burn marks in the surrounding area as well. I take my time to walk around, mostly following the burn marks, and find a dead rabbit corpse sitting behind a tree. It's probably what caused the burnt markings.
"Hey, Mom, Dad! Come over this way and take a look at this!" I wave them down and they come over in an instant.
"Welp. Nothing useful off that huh." My dad scratches his head and stares down at the rabbit corpse. Or at least what's left. It is mangled beyond belief. I'm sure you can picture what a 3-foot rabbit would look like if you put it in a wood chipper. The answer, disgusting. Even Mom, the one who skins and cooks most of our catches, seems to be having trouble keeping her breakfast down.
"Ew. Silas, you know we gotta not shred the beast so we can bring it home for food, right?" Ann walks over and looks at me, insinuating that 'I' did this. Let's be clear here, I'm not strong enough to bring this kind of hell to a poor little rabbit, nor would I. I ignore my sister and start to think about something I find worrisome. Not once, not a single time, have I ever seen a corpse in this forest that wasn't at least partially consumed. This rabbit may have been put through a pulverizer and then shredded, but it's still all here.
"Mom, what kind of animal doesn't eat its pray? Have you or Dad ever seen anything like this?"
I turn my head up and ask this, but both my mom and dad already have pale faces. Seems like they already figured out what was going on. And by the looks in their eyes, it wasn't good. Mom went on to answer me. "We should probably leave the area. If it's what I think it is…"
As Mom began to trail off, Dad filled me and my sister in. "There was once a story we heard back when we were adventures about a monster that had gotten sick. No one ever found out why or how it got sick, but we knew one thing. It became extremely aggressive. Not only that, but it gained massive amounts of strength. It roamed the forest for a few days, killing any monster or adventurer it saw. Eventually the guilds had to send someone out that was a Gold rank to kill it."
Gold rank...shit. Growing up I always admired Mom and Dads strength. I would watch them train out in the yard. There were many times I couldn't even follow their movements. Even now when we train in the evenings, I still can not always follow them properly. However, my Mom and Dad are still two ranks below this creature.
Dad continues on, breaking me out of my thoughts. "By NO means, do we engage with it. Let's go ahead and head back to the town. We can report this to Lord Steins when we get back."
With Dad's words, we all started on our way back. Mind you, we were walking much faster than we were earlier. As if a certain bit of 'inspiration' kicked in. Mom and Dad kept watch of the flanks while Ann watched our backs. I was in charge of making sure we didn't run into anything unexpected. It was stressful. The story Dad told us, it made me want to run back home. I am still in no way strong. It hasn't even been one day since 'I' arrived on this planet. The me that has been here has lacked motivation to train up until then. It was important that we made it out of the forest without ever running into this…beast. If we did, there is no doubt in my mind that we would all perish. I don't feel like losing another family already. We were all thinking roughly the same thing, the faster out of here, the better.
We were almost home when we came to a familiar scene. A blood bath. One much worse than last time. On the ground in front of us lay a few corpses of wind wolves. For something to catch a small pack of these…not good. Wind wolves are able to bend the wind around them and assist in running, they could easily run faster than a cheetah back on earth, but for hours on end. Not only that, but they are quite large and strong. Wind wolves are comparable to the size of a rhino. Yet here lay 7 of them, all in the same condition as that rabbit.
At the sound of my Mom's voice, I snap my gaze up to see her standing next to Ann and starring at something just a little farther away. At that moment my whole body freezes. A trail of blood leads off into the distance…directly to our home.