An Event in the Forest
Editors: Joker, Speedphoenix
She panted heavily as she desperately pushed herself forward. She was completely out of breath. Her legs felt as heavy as lead and refused to do as she told them. Pain assaulted her as the surrounding plants scraped against her skin each time she forced her way past them.
Still, the sorrow and fear that filled her heart drove her to continue. She was so focused on escaping that she was able to put everything else behind her.
Her destination was wherever her legs would take her. She had no idea where she was supposed to go or how she was supposed to get there. All she knew was that she couldn’t let herself get caught, that she had to flee the encroaching despair at her back.
“Shit!” The rugged-looking man that was chasing her stopped right at the forest’s edge. He clicked his tongue and swore, but dared not venture inside. “This ain’t good. The stupid brat’s gone an’ scrambled ‘er ass into the Wicked Forest!”
“The fuck is wrong witchu, man!? Why’d you go and drive ‘er in there!?” An equally rugged-looking but slightly shorter man, the first’s partner, raised his arms in an expression of frustration. “Bitch, we gun’ get our asses beat ta high heaven if we let the goods git away!”
“Bruh, we ain’t recoverin’ dat shit. You think I’mma ‘bout to hit up the Wicked Forest? Aw hell no. I’mma gun’ get my ass fucked twice as hard if I do. Hell naw bruh, I ain’t down. I ain’t givin’ that damned ancient dragon anymore booty. Heard that bitch ass been more active lately for some god forsaken reason. Shit!”
“Tsk.” The shorter man clicked his tongue as he grumbled. “Bitch ass brat, makin’ trouble for us ‘n shit.”
Though the child in question had heard the men, she wasn’t able to make out what they were saying. All her focus was directed towards her escape.
“Hah! Rarghh! Aaaahhh!”
A series of splatters rang throughout the forest as I tore through a group of monsters. I shouted each time I swung my blade—a decision I wholeheartedly regretted. The third and final creature erupted into a fountain of blood as its head was torn from its body. As it was angled towards me, the geyser covered my face in crimson and filled my open mouth with a rancid, irony fluid.
“Oh god! Gross! It got in my mouth!”
I spat a few times to get the blood out of my mouth before swinging the blade a few times to clean off the bits of flesh and gore it was slathered in. Though I’d only intended to behead it, the thing that sat in front of me was mutilated beyond recognition. I couldn’t even tell its genus anymore, let alone its species.
Frankly put, my stats were ridiculous. My specs were so disproportionately scaled that they blew my enemies’ minds. Literally. Though I was using a sword, almost every monster I hit exploded from the force of my strikes. My attacks crushed my enemies and transformed them into disfigured corpses.
Ugh… Why the hell does this have to be so gruesome? I can practically feel my sanity stat take a hit every time I kill something.
My idle complaints were, well, idle complaints. I knew exactly why I wasn’t getting the clean cuts I so desired. It was a combination of several factors. The first was my skill with the sword, or rather, my lack thereof. I’d never truly done any swordplay. High school was the last time I’d touched anything that even remotely resembled a bladed weapon, as my high school’s gym class featured kendo from time to time. The sword I was using wasn’t really helping either. I was using one of the cheapest weapons in the dungeon’s catalogue. Not much could be said for its craftsmanship or efficacy.
Playing around with the weapon had gotten me the Sword Arts skill. I could feel that it was indeed helping, but that was it. It was still just level one, so its effects were basically negligible. More importantly, I was a total amateur. I had no idea what I was doing. My ability to use a sword was so pathetic that not even the skill’s meager padding did much for me at all. In fact, Lefi had called me out and asked me if I was playing some sort of game when I tried swinging it around for practice’s sake. Worst of all, her comment wasn’t one made out of malicious intent. She was genuinely curious. The whole situation was so pathetic that it made me want to curl up into a ball and cry.
Through combat, I finally learned the value of my innate skill, Magic Eye. I hadn’t truly understood what it meant to be able to see the flow of someone else’s magical energy until I was subject to a magical attack. Only then did I realize that the skill allowed me to discern when monsters were getting ready to cast their spells. It told me how their magical energy was flowing, where it gathered, and even the locations they were targeting before their magical bombardments fully materialized.
I’d actually used the skill to dodge a powerful spell just a few moments earlier. I was able to quickly move out of the way of an earth based spell that caused spikes to erupt from right under the target’s feet, impaling and instantly killing them. I was sure I would’ve died without Magic Eye’s assistance. I couldn’t have possibly seen it coming otherwise.
The combination of my innate skill’s efficacy and my dislike for gore led me to all but decide that I was going to become the type of demon lord that specialized in magecraft. My eyes provided me the ability to sling long ranged spells at my opponent while dodging theirs with ease. The advantage I had in such a scenario was just flat out unfair.
Yeah, I really don’t like actually hitting things with my sword. The sensation of the blade striking flesh is unpleasant, and all the blood gets my clothes wet. Close quarters combat is way too gruesome and unsanitary for my tastes. It’s just… blech.
Speaking of magic, I’d recently become totally inept at fire magic. Creating a lighter-like flame had been easy for me when I first started, but I could no longer produce anything more potent than a flickering, weak flame, the size of what you’d see on the end of a matchstick. Apparently, my last experience had led me to think fire magic to be something dangerous. My brain had started unconsciously suppressing it so I wouldn’t hurt myself, and there wasn’t really much I could do about it.
I was a bit miffed that I’d effectively thrown one of my more potent affinities down the drain, but I didn’t mind it too much. I didn’t need it. I still had a strong affinity for both earth and water, and I was getting significantly better at both. I was already able to control the temperature of the water I created. All in all, my magic was still a bit on the weaker side. It wasn’t of much use in combat quite yet, but that was fine. I would only get better with time.
“Alrighty. Looks like this section of the map’s fully fleshed out.” I continued playing around with the menu as I started to move.
Like many others before it, I’d spent most of the day exploring and examining the dungeon’s surroundings so I could further expand my territory. I wasn’t actively hunting monsters. I only fought those that I happened to come across along the way. All my expansions had led down from the dungeon’s entrance; I was slowly taking control of all sections of the mountain that lay beneath my cave. My current income had already become a whole three Lefis worth of DP each day.
That said, I was almost always flat broke. I blew all my DP on dungeon expansions every single time I had enough. I was really excited to see how my territory would end up once I was finally done taking everything nearby over.
“Wait, what’s that?”
I felt like I saw something out of the corner of my eye, so I directed my gaze away from the open map and checked my peripherals. Turning to the left, I immediately saw the thing that’d grabbed my attention. At first, I couldn’t make out what it was. All I could tell was that it was some sort of creature, and that it’d collapsed in a bush.
A sticky red liquid garnished its body. It was clearly heavily injured. In fact, it was covered in so much blood that, at first, I’d assumed it to be some sort of corpse. As I had already made the surrounding area a part of my dungeon, I glanced to the right and checked the map, only to find that it was marked as an intruder—that it was still alive.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I approached it while keeping up my guard. Only after closing in did I realize that the thing was a young girl. She was covered from head to toe in blood and collapsed face first in the dirt.
I immediately ran over and gave her a quick checkup. She had a pulse, but she was unconscious. The deep claw shaped wound on her back seemed to indicate that she’d been attacked by a monster. The gash was deep, it didn’t look like she was going to live for anything more than just a few minutes.
Fortunately for her, I happened to have a potion on hand. I opened up my item box and grabbed it. The life-saving fluid was contained in a small bottle; there wasn’t too much of it. Uhh… I think I can just pour it on her, right?
The bottle hadn’t come with instructions, but Lefi had briefed me on its use a bit earlier, so I knew what to do. I popped off its lid and carefully started to dribble its contents over her wounds. I took excruciating care not to miss a drop. Despite being a deep laceration, her injury began to close at a rapid pace the moment the liquid so much as touched her. She regenerated so quickly I almost felt it disturbing.
“Nrghh…” The girl began to stir after I used about half the bottle. The cuts were flat out gone and her skin had been restored to a soft, glossy state, as one would expect from a child. Her breathing, which had started off shallow and ragged, had returned to normal.
Whew… Looks like she’s out of danger. I heaved a sigh of relief after confirming that the girl had made it, finally letting out the breath I’d held since I began her treatment. The process of healing her was so exhausting and nerve wracking that cold sweat had formed on my brow, so I promptly wiped it off with an unsteady hand.
As demonstrated by the little girl, the high class potion I’d just used was extremely effective. It allowed the person it was used on to regenerate limbs much in the same manner as P*ccolo. It could repair a giant gaping hole in one’s stomach without much difficulty even though such a wound would otherwise be fatal.
Holy shit. You could probably use this thing to just rush things down without a care for how much damage you take. You could even turn a soldier into what is effectively a zombie if you just keep using these things… That’s kinda terrifying.
Lefi was the only reason I actually had the potion on hand. She told me that it was better for me to hold onto one just in case, as, although my stats were high, I wasn’t exactly the strongest thing around. Her warning was a fair one, so I’d heeded it even though the potion was a bit expensive. Never thought I’d be using it like this though. I guess Lefi really does give good advice from time to time. I should probably treat her to chocolate or something when I get home.
Still, that girl’s in awful shape. Her clothes are torn and ripped, and her pretty blonde hair’s all disheveled. She’s got a lot of injuries, and most of them don’t look recent.
A single glance was enough to tell me that the young blonde I’d just treated had experienced her fair share of misery.
“Either way, I guess I should probably take her home. It’s not like I can just leave her here, after all.”
Editor’s Note: Hey, guys! Joker here. Another early chapter of JM down. We’re getting closer and closer to catching up, aren’t we? Heh. In this chapter, we’re introduced to the apparent resident loli. (I know about her, but in case people are reading this for the first time, I won’t say anything. Read on to learn more. Haha, shameless plugging.) Wonder what her story might be, and what our demon lord, Yuki, might do to the hapless bastards who hurt her. Guess we’ll find out in the later chapters, aye? See y’all in the next chapter!