68 Good Hunter

    --Eira POV--

    My mind currently feels weak after the nightmare that was that abominable tutorial. It didn't take me long to realize escaping was futile, running was useless, and fighting was impractical. Not only was I outmatched on every level, but not even the terrain was friendly. Anyway, the worst thing you can do is be taken alive by a monster. Monsters are different from beasts, as beasts hunt for food, but some monsters hunt for other more sadistic reasons. This thing had no sign of a mouth or any other orifice, so I decided it might be one of those that hunt for other reasons.

    That's why I tried to jump in the lava to escape the simulation; one does not simply sink into lava quickly like they do in the movies. Of course, I already knew it wouldn't be like the movies, but it was even slower than I thought it would be or maybe it just felt that way. The mana shield certainly didn't help speed things along.

    Surprisingly the pain wasn't that horrifying as I expected mostly because I think most of my nerves were shot almost immediately. If anything, the side of my body opposite the lava hurt more than the parts in contact due to the splashed lava. Well, vampires have extremely high pain tolerances, so maybe that helped. The worst part, however, is when I was almost out of health, that thing arrived to finish me off. I thought it would simply punch me with one of its many arms, but no. It headbutted me with its weird head-hand thing just to make an awful situation also humiliating. To make a long... short story short, I am not in a good mood.

    Glancing at Aponi, who is still in critical health, I turn toward the others, "Sam, Terry, and Jimmy did you all qualify for the beta?"

    "Yeah, all three of us did. We were just talking about it while you were over there, staring at the wall."

    "Shut up! None of you would understand. What numbers are you?"

    "The number the thing called us? I was 901882," Terry answers.

    "I was, Uhm, 901885," Sam responds.

    "901901. You think they mean something?" Jimmy replies.

    "I don't know. It could just be the order in which the system 'discovered' everyone, or it could be something like an early leader board for the Beta. I'm not sure, to be honest."

    'Mostly I was curious how high the numbers went and if they qualified. How high does someone's mana level have to be to qualify? If their body has any mana at all, do they qualify? The lowest of these three is Jimmy, who has a mana level of 20. If the requirement is not that high, I am worried about how many people or things here in Anchorage will qualify. Although the Crawlers are very low on the magical creature ladder, magical creatures still have a tendency to saturate the air around them with mana.'

    "There are bodies here! Search the rooms!" a voice outside yells.

    Gripping my scythe, a sense of pity for these people rises up from my stomach. Speaking of the scythe, it should have it's own status menu now, '\u003cAnaylze\u003e'.

    Name: Unnamed

    Owner: Eira Callista

    Race: Living Weapon

    Type: Trick Scythe

    Weapon Evolution: 1 (Progression: 0%)

    Durability: 100/100

    Mana: 50/50

    Consciousness: 1

    Sturdiness: 3

    Inborn Effects: Pressurized Bloody Ooze (Pressure: 100%)

    Skills: Blood Slice; Self-Repair

    Titles: -

    Looking over the living weapons status just when I am about to run \u003cAnaylze\u003e on a few other things, the door bursts open.

    "They're here!��� a masculine voice yells.

    'It's a field test then, I suppose.'

    The soldier begins to fire and as a bullet makes contact with the shield, I swing the scythe, "Blood Slice!"

    A loud crack echoes as the scythe's blade splits, allowing blood to spill out. With the momentum of my swing, the blood separates from the blade with a red glow. Like a liquid copy of the scythe's blade, it continues forward at a rapid speed, only coming to a stop when a large gash in the wall behind the soldier appears.

    The soldier's eyes are wide, but he stands there still firing.

    For a moment, the world is silent, 'Did I miss?'

    A noise like wet paper echoes as the soldier's arm along with the gun begins to fall away from his body. The arm still pulling the trigger causes bullets to fly hazardously around the room.

    I swing again, sending out a second blood slice.

    This time blood quickly bursts from a clean wound in the man's abdomen. The man tries to say something but finds himself unable to speak.

    [7 Essence Acquired]

    The soldier falls into a pool of his own blood.

    "Soldier down! Form a perimeter, hurry!" someone else outside yells.

    'I'm tired of being chased, and my mood is foul, so now, I'll do some hunting.'

    Motioning to the three vampire men they pick up their rifles and together we walk out. Stepping through the sweet-smelling pool of the downed soldier's blood, what greets us are three walking corpses.

    A bit of relief comes over me; if there had been more, this would have been embarrassing.

    "Put down your weapons now!" one shouts.


    The scythe's blade and shaft begin to ooze blood.

    "Just know it's not your fault. Fate is sometimes simply cruel, but don't worry there is room for everyone in the void."

    The sounds of gunfire from both sides echo through the hospital halls.




    [New essence acquired analyzing past actions for any earned Titles.]


    [Milestone Reached: At least 30 Humans Slain.]

    [Acquired Title: Human Hunter (Lesser)]

    'Well, that didn't take long.'

    Walking back into the room, I grab one of the corpses and go back toward Aponi and decide to continue my effort to get her to absorb a body.

    "Aponi, here try this one. It's fresher." I say.

    Aponi's eyes are hollow now, and although I sealed her wounds not long after discovering her, the internal bleeding is likely severe. Turning around I notice two of the vampire men have followed me.

    "You two go into the hall and guard too," I shout.

    The two vampires comply albeit hesitantly, saving me the trouble of beating them into unconsciousness.

    I shake my head, 'I'm just gonna assume they were concerned.'

    Leaning over, I unbutton Aponi's shirt and peel her clothing off, which has attached itself to her skin due to the coagulated blood. Pulling out a towel from my storage ring, I begin searching her body for anything that might hint toward her talent usage. Although not as common as mental based Talents sometimes Talents can be some kind of physical mutation.

    Wiping away some blood just below her neck, something catches my attention-some kind of black cluster of veins that lead to somewhere. Continuing to wipe away the blood around her chest, I find it seems to be running toward her stomach where it stops. So I follow it from the other direction where the black cluster of veins runs into some bandages. Removing the bandages, I find it seems to run toward her wrist and disappears. Extending my nail, I tap the skin, finding it to be a bit hard and scab like, so I force my nail under the hard skin and draw it upward. A much bigger area of skin than I expect tears off, and below I find something that looks like a hole.

    'Ah, so it seems from the time she awakened her Talent the skin hadn't sloughed off on its own yet or maybe the organs for it only recently finished maturing. Anyway, let's hope it's functioning.'

    I press on her forearm, just below where the hole is and out pops a black barbed needle-like protrusion reminiscent of some kind of hidden blade.

    Taking the body of the soldier, I yank it forward and shove the barbed needle into his neck. Suddenly, where the needle entered the soldier's body, black veins begin to spread from his neck to his face and down his neck. Aponi gasps and breathes out heavily, emitting some kind of black mist that smells of death.

    'Is she breathing out some kind of waste product? Sorta smells like the exploded body from the morgue. I hate it.'

    Rapidly the soldier's body begins to deteriorate and dry out until nothing is left but something that resembles a mummified corpse. Looking back over her body I notice some wounds have sealed themselves, so I take out another corpse and repeat the process.

    'Well, I'm glad I found that, I thought I was going to have to play nurse or threaten a doctor for a blood transfusion... \u003cAnalyze\u003e'

    Name: Aponi Williams

    Gender: Female

    Race: Vampire

    Level: 1

    Mana: 30/30

    Strength: 9

    Endurance: 11

    Agility: 11

    Intellect: 3

    Constitution: 10

    Talents: Death's Harvest

    Skills: Novice Tomahawk Proficiency

    Titles: Wendigo Hvshu

    'It looks like Aponi got into the Beta as well, I'm a little disappointed she didn't get novice Blood Magic though... But she got a new Title? \u003cAnalyze\u003e.'

    {Title Name: Wendigo Hvshu

    Looking over the results a few more times I try to think back to the past and remember if such a thing like this existed. Yet, nothing in Callista's memories seem to indicate a Title like this that could stimulate lineage. Eventually, I come to my own conclusion.

    'This must be something of the 'Cosmic System's' design due to the overabundance of humans. These people are tens of thousands of years separated from this old blood the amount must be minute, but it seems the Cosmic System is trying to stimulate diversity or maybe it has some other reason. Trying to guess what that thing may or may not be thinking is typically impossible. Anyway, why it gave it to Aponi, a vampire, I don't know, but it's possible it's just a byproduct of us being here early.

    Either way, this is yet another thing that could cause issues in the future as there are probably no small amount of humans with a bit of ancestry like this within them. I'm curious what the races that value "purity" will think when they come across these outsider hybrid people, though.'

    I groan and glance out of a nearby window, just in time to catch a few bright blue shooting stars.

    Feeling the bit of mana coming off of them my head starts to hurt, 'As long as whatever those things are don't land nearby, they can be someone else's problem.'


    --Eden's POV--

    "So she did that because the husks were Night Demons? Why does she care?... Actually you know what I'll just ask her myself."

    "Yeah, that would probably be best... what's your name by the way?"

    "Just call me Kardama."

    "Beta Entity 818414 and Beta Entity 818401 please advance simulation or neuro pain stimulators will be used to encourage the entities."

    "Okay... I'm Eden, and I guess we're supposed to be fighting."

    Raising my stick, some emotions and guilt begin to build as I think back to the soldier I may have killed, but I push them down. Kardama on the other hand just stares at me dumbfounded.

    "...I didn't have my weapon on me when I got brought here." I say a bit awkwardly.

    "Oh, well." he smiles wickedly, "That's great for me!"

    He reaches behind him and then "Shadow's Rush!" he shouts.

    Kardama's shadow suddenly shifts from behind him to beneath him. The ground flexes beneath his feet as little tendrils shoot from it and grip onto Kardama's feet. Kardama suddenly breaks into a sprint as the puddle of black and its tendrils rise and fall with his feets motion.

    'W-what!? No! I'm not going to die even if it's a simulation!'

    Without time to think I simply swing my stick. It cracks against something, but pain also shoots through my body. Kardama is suddenly right in front of me and I glance down to find his fist against my abdomen. In his hand, he grips the end of a push dagger.

    'He stabbed me?'

    Rage and panic bubble up and I can feel my lungs begin to burn.

    "Variance in Talent detected, updating Talent in 'Status' screen."

    Unconsciously, I grab onto his horn and scream. The air around me ripples like a continuous shockwave from a bomb as the grass below our feet bends away from us. However, for me, it is as if the world has become perfectly silent as my ears almost shut to block the sound of my own scream. The only thing I can feel is the vibration of my throat and windpipe.

    Kardama twists and yanks the dagger from my abdomen causing the pain to nearly triple. He covers his ears, jumps back, and says something, but I am unable to hear anything. My body begins to sweat profusely under the weight of my Talent.

    'If I stop he'll stab me again. There's no way I'm stopping! No way!'

    Drops of black blood begin to pour from between Kardama's hands as he gives me an angry look. Gritting his teeth and uncovering his ears he reaches behind him pulling out a second push dagger. Again he sprints at me as fast as he can.

    I jump back as he thrusts at my neck causing a wet feeling to run down my collar bone. All at once the sounds of the world return and I can hear myself gasping for air and coughing. At the same time, I place pressure on my neck and Kardama takes the opportunity to speak.

    "Finally! Geez, how loud can you be!? Are you really a half-bird with such a wicked talent like that!?" he yells.

    Apparently, he doesn't want an actual answer because a second later he's swinging at me like a boxer with his two push daggers gripped in his knuckles. I curse myself for not having practiced my defensive maneuvers as much as I should have when I was young. Inevitably he gets another dagger into my abdomen stopping and causing me to stumble. This time he takes full advantage of the opportunity as he rapidly begins punching and stabbing me until my stomach looks like wet red rags. Barely able to move, I trip and collapse against a tree breathing heavily.

    "Well, you whacked me with the stick one time. That's better than most Shadow Demons could do."

    Placing my hand against my belly, I can feel the wetness of my blood.

    'W-would blood magic work? I'm not very good, but...'

    He smiles, "Don't look so sad. Demons are just better and we agreed to meet near that hospital in a couple of days, so..."

    While he talks, I think rapidly trying to remember what Eira told me, 'I-it was something about forcing water uphill? Then she said if it won't go uphill like you want it to then let it go downhill?  Geh! I have no idea what that means! No one did and I don't think anyone ever will!'

    "...surprised you're still alive honestly, but let's end this."

    He moves in close with a grin and places the push dagger on my throat. Suddenly, I feel a sharp pain and blood begins to spew from my throat.

    This time Eira's voice plays in my head as if she is giving me unquestionable wisdom, 'Always make sure you get them as good as they get you. Otherwise, they'll always think they can take advantage of you. That goes double if you're cute! Hehe.'

    In front of me, all I can make out is an outline. I raise my blood-covered hand, 'Blood spike.'

    "Novice Blood Magic detected, adding to status."

    Not a spike, but something more akin to a golf ball shoots from my palm. The black outline doubles over with his hands covering his lap.

    "You bitch!" he yells.

    Everything fades to black.

    "Beta Entity 818401 defeats Beta Entity 818414. Ending simulation."
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