The fog cleared as the darkness of the night slowly made way for the light of the day. Still, that didn't reduce the many screams, howls, and roars that made the forest a pretty unwelcoming and frightening environment in the absence of sunlight. I felt lucky that I had my two wolves accompanying me. They made me feel more courageous, and our numbers scared off most of the creatures that tried to ambush me otherwise. My monstrous appearance was also some kind of natural defensive mechanism, which made me rarely the target of other predators, and I was left in peace as long as I didn't seek trouble myself.
Nevertheless, I was still an apex predator. I hunted down every single prey looked manageable for my still lacking combat skills. My claws were razor-sharp, but my expertise with my powerful werewolfish body was still dull and had to be sharpened. For that reason, I bullied the weak and avoided the strong, and ended up slaying a few ordinary beasts and two elites that rewarded me with +10 Credits and a single essence fragment.
Most of these nocturnal creatures were ambush hunters. They additionally had the habit of traveling in groups, with one of them always acting as some kind of bait or scout for the rest. So I had to be careful when I came across one of those guys. Engaging a fight was always a small risk with those guys.
Nighttime in the endless forest was a creepy and frightening, but also a fairly fascinating experience-…
My steps came to a halt when a terrible, high-pitched, and blood-curdling scream overpowered all the other noise pollution that bothered my ears. Daylight was illuminating the forest, but that didn't mean that some nightly beasts would simply go to sleep with empty stomachs.
I crouched down and shifted my head to the direction from where the noise came from.
What the fuck? – I exclaimed inwardly, blinking in bewilderment.
"Robin-… no- …noooo! You damn beast!!!"
My brows shot upwards in astonishment.
The screams continued, this time accompanied by a sharp hissing sound that made the picture of a large snake pop up in my head. Not knowing how to react, I eventually allowed my curiosity and werewolf instincts to guide my feet in the direction of the commotion. I could simply run away if shit hits the fan. Whatever attacked the yelling individuals, it must be something strong.
On the other hand, one man's sorrow is the other man's joy. It wasn't hard to guess that there was a ferocious beast attacking at least two adventurers. And one of them, that Robin person, must have been critically injured by the sound of it.
I stopped my speculation when I caught sight of the beast and its victims.
[Giant Constrictor – LvL 1 – Rare Elite]
[Player: Robin Swann – LvL 1]
[Player: Bogdan Swann – LvL 1]
My brows shot up in surprise when a massive dark-green snake of the length of three cars entered my view. The serpentine beast had beautiful poison-green criss-cross patterns running across its back. Its triangular head had two devilish horns growing above its bright yellow eyes, and its large, cavernous maw was full of spiky, backward-curving teeth that were pointing to a hungry black abyss.
In front of the enormous snake was a young woman covered in a tattered training-outfit. She was currently crying in agony and spasming with pain. I could see that one of her legs was severely injured by a green liquid that appeared to be acid. The cruel substance hissed sharply as it continued to erode her skin and flesh with vicious malice.
Her boyfriend, I assumed, was dressed in a similar-looking training outfit. Both looked quite athletic with well-build and very human bodies, not older than twenty-five, and not younger than twenty. The young man was currently trying to fight off the massive serpent with a long spear that had a red-hot glowing peak. He did manage to deal some damage, but nothing of significance that would cease the aggressive behavior of the snake.
Hmm… snakes get very sluggish after they have filled their tummy – I noted in the back of my mind as I observed the bloody conflict with morbid interest.
I wasn't sure what kind of person I was in my life before I lost my memories, but I could tell that I didn't feel any desire to help these two. My heart was a black void, and there was no empathy or altruism existing inside me. On the contrary, there was suddenly a whispering voice emerging in the back of my head, advising me to ruthlessly exploit the situation to my benefit.
The callous voice grew only louder when I saw how the fit bodies of the two were. They must have been fitness models back on Earth. The young woman was also quite attractive while her male partner had a smug expression carved into his face – even when standing in front of death, that arrogant brat couldn't stop to look like a rich snob. I could tell that he was one of these people that loved to brag with their beautiful, healthy, and sporty bodies. Something deep inside me wanted to tear them apart and break their bones, crush their legs.
Hmpf… Fuck them!
Having made up my mind, I carefully backed away from the fight and moved stealthily from tree to tree in a half-circle around the center of the conflict to position myself behind the snake. I also summoned four [Irontusk Boar] tusks out of my inventory to make space for the possibility I obtained any kind of loot if I somehow managed to slay the oversized reptile.
It was also the perfect opportunity to observe how other players performed in their fight of survival against the dangerous beasts that roamed this forest. So far, the Bogdan guy was doing pretty well. He wasn't able to harm the snake all that much, but the same could be said about his opponent.
The greedy serpent was more interested in the piece of meat that was lying in front of it, and its low intelligence didn't allow it to recognize the benefit of killing the male first, and enjoy its tasty meal after the annoying little human brat was pacified. So it continued its fruitless attempt to devour the howling woman while dodging the spear-thrusts of her desperate boyfriend.
Wait, shouldn' I get their-…?!
My eyes widened in realization, and I cursed inwardly when I recalled the fact that player-killing should be a rather profitable business. PvP wasn't just a past-time occupation, but a serious profession in some games. This world was pretty much like a game, so I expected some rewards from players I sent to their next, great adventure.
Shaking my head, I stopped wasting time and acted purely by greed-driven instinct as I stood up from my hiding spot. This was not the time for philosophical debates and moralistic discussions, and I didnt even try to enter that field. It was the moment for action! No action means no rewards – and no rewards means… well, no rewards.
Recognizing the fact that the four saber-like tusks in my hands were somewhat adequate throwing weapons, I grinned like a little devil and quickly changed my position again to get a better view of my target. Following that, I grabbed one of the tusks and launched it with full force, aimed at the head of the clueless, spear-wielding Bodgan boy.
*Argh!!!* Bogdan squealed in a high-pitched tone when the sharp and pointy end of the tusk impaled the side of his torso. The massive snake saw it as a perfect opportunity to win the fight and snapped after the injured snack. It sunk its teeth into the side of the guy but hissed in agony and fury when a spear impaled itself in one of its eyes.
The girlfriend used it as a chance to escape death and began to crawl away. She stopped when she put some small distance between her and the snake and lifted her hand to toss an orange fireball at the remaining healthy eye of the scally beast. I didn't dilly-dally either and launched another saber-tusk at the boyfriend, hitting his head, but unfortunately with the blunt side.
"Come out, you filthy piece of shit!" The boyfriend roared in anger when he realized that someone was sabotaging their chances of survival. *Argh!!!*
However, the enraged [Giant Constrictor] didn't let go of his side anymore, and the victim of its bite was as good as death from my point of view. I commanded my loyal wolves to go after the crippled girlfriend, who wouldn't be able to escape with her damaged leg. The boyfriend got another tusk thrown at his head that cut off one of his ears.
I kept the last tusk for the snake and rushed forward to test out how hard the skull of the [Giant Constrictor] was exactly.
The eyes of the boyfriend widened in shock when he caught sight of my werewolfish shape dashing at the giant serpent monster. He could do nothing but to listen to the screams of his helpless girlfriend as my wolves brutally mauled her to pieces. The flow of time seemed to have stopped as our gazes met. I could see it very clearly, how his eyes dulled with tears of undiluted anguish.
He lost hope and gave up, then he died.
I growled with savage fury and forced myself to stay focused on my main objective, and leaped at the snake before ramming the full length of the tusk I was holding into the backside of its large triangular head. The beast was blinded and didn't saw the attack coming, but the pain made its body twist and convulse violently, which made it dangerous for me to stay close to it. Still, I saw another chance to deal some extra damage and hammered the spear that was stuck in its eye deeper into its head.
After I finished my work with the snake, I jumped at the boyfriend and broke his neck with a powerful knee-strike that connected with his lower-jaw. It was unnecessary violence, but that move it satisfied the whisper in the back of my mind.
[System: You have slain the players, Robin Swann and Bogdan Swann. Their Credits and a small part of their Essence Fragments will be transferred to your account]
[+340 Credits added to your balance]
[+3 Essence Fragment added to your inventory]
My eyes bulged in shock when I saw large amounts of credits I received. However, I didn't allow myself to be distracted by it and ordered my wolves to attack the snake. Regret and shame for killing the two players started to swell in my gest.
"Fucking hell!" I inhaled a sharp breath and suppressed the flood of emotions by bursting with a feral growl before I threw myself at the enraged snake that was whipping its tail aimlessly around.
Raging, I exploded with primordial savageness and hailed a storm of razor-sharp swipes at the massive serpent, ripping and cutting its body until the point that the mossy earth around me was covered in bloody scales. Doing that until exhaustion began to affect my attacks, and I eventually moved away to let my wolf companions finish the job for me.
"Good job, my boys!" I bellowed with an angry snarl. "Rip it into pieces and fuck it to hell!"
There was still a lot of potent energy available in my body, but I had to be careful with my reserves and use them wisely. Fighting until the point of utter exhaustion would cripple my movements significantly and increase the danger of becoming prey myself. I had my two loyal wolves, so I made us of the comfort of my magic and let them do the dirty work for me. I would be able to summon at least four new pairs if the giant snake somehow managed to kill them.
Not that I needed to, by the look of it. I began to notice that the snake was actually dead. Its body was merely spasming around without the guidance of a mind. I guessed that I hit some important nerve fibers with the tusk and stimulated them into sending frantic signals to the muscles.
The message that popped up in my view confirmed my speculation.
[+50 Credits added to your balance]
[+5 Essence Fragments added to your inventory]
[Rare Ring, Signet of the Malicious Opportunist, added to your inventory!]
[Signet of the Malicious Opportunist: Your attacks are 10-25% more effective against targets that are physically handicapped or restricted in their freedom of movement]
"Fuck yeah!" I barked, pleased.
My eyes lit up and started to glow with a greedy light. The snake was a huge treasure-chest indeed! The effect of the ring sounded pretty neat. I would focus on crippling by prey now, but a claw strike at the leg was most of the time enough to handicap the victim. The next attack would be more potent if the effect of the ring triggered.
Anyways, I relocated the ring into my magical gear manager in order to activate its magic.
|Magical Gear Manager|
|Weapon||Flogger of the Hateful Coward|
|Ring||Signet of the Malicious Opportunist|
The bigger screen replaced the messages. I nodded in satisfaction and turned my attention to my wolves that were happily feasting on the body of the snake.
"Very well done, my boys," I praised and walked over to the dead man to check his body for valuables. However, my expression became sour when I found nothing. The fancy spear was gone. His clothes were worthless for me - and what kind of sick fuck would wear the clothes of a dead man anyway?
"Bloody hell…" I cursed and exhaled a sigh of defeat. Yet, I couldn't help but ponder for a bit. "Don't tell me that any kind of magical gear is bound to the player. And that the stuff will be lost with the death of the owner?"
My first thought after that discovery was that the game didn't want players to kill each other for magical equipment, but that theory sounded too easy. Yet, I was beginning to realize that beasts and creatures were the main challenges of the game, so I could only assume for now that the game preferred players to fight these instead of each other.
I couldn't focus on that topic for long because of a wave of regret, shame, and something else started to drown my mind. My body started to tense, and I felt like petrified for a couple of seconds, and I had to forcefully calm myself by practicing breathing techniques.
"Bloody shite…" I murmured in a gloomy mood. "I am one huge bitch-ass-motherfucking-bastard!"
I made my wolves stop their feast and hurried away from the area. The sight of the two dead people only worsened my mood. Something inside me wanted to kill them when I saw the perfect and healthy shape of their bodies. I wasn't able to grasp why I suddenly felt like this, and why the emotion was powerful enough to push me into a state of mind where I outright ignored the value of two lives. I killed the man and made my wolves rip the young woman in pieces. Why? I am not quite sure.
Greed may have been a driving force, but I dismissed that thought because I didn't feel THAT greedy for more loot and magical gear. Sure, it was nice to gain more stuff and add more credits and fragments to my inventory, but I was sure that wouldn't start to mindlessly kill every player that I came across because of it. There was something else driving me.
The voice in my head thirsted for revenge – but why?
Letting my mind recall the particular scene, I remembered that I felt angry, even humiliated for some unknown reason, and seeing their healthy, athletic bodies made me feel weak and powerless. I didn't pay much attention to these sensations at that time because the bloodlust of that whispering voice clouded my mind.
These emotions didn't make any sense because even an idiot could see that I was in every way superior to them - at least physically. My body was that of a werewolf, and I could beat the living hell out of them without even trying.
Nevertheless, my legs began to shake and tingle the more I thought about that particular situation. For some reason, the picture of a wheelchair popped up in my mind, located inside a gloomy room that looked like the library of some old and dusty museum.
Without warning, the faint whisper in the back of my mind turned into a raging scream that burned with emotions of hatred and wrath. The desire for cruel vengeance made me fill my lungs and explode with a deep, bestial roar that spread through the forest and made the birds fly away in terror.
*FUCKING IMBECILES, I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU ALL!!!*
Inhaling another breath, I carried on with my rage.
*I WILL TEAR YOUR FUCKING DICKHEADS OFF!!!*
*Rip and tear... fucking KILL!*
"Goddammit…" I breathed and swiped the nearest tree with my claws. Pictures started to flood my mind. Some were good, but others were portraying a battered and lonely soul. "Who are these bastards?! And what have they done to me?!"
Foggy and fragmented memories of a happy childhood emerged in my head. They didn't make much sense to me, but the memories turned darker as time passed. At some point, there was only pain, suffering, and humiliation. The picture of the wheelchair in the library appeared again, and I felt a deep sense of dread swelling up in me, but the emotion that filled me the most was pure hatred. It corroded my mind, and the memories and pictures vanished again in a sea of darkness.
I couldn't see much, but I was able to recognize the shapes of two people in most of the pictures that were dark and gloomy. One shape appeared to be an older woman, slim and tall, and with stern features. The second shape seemed to be a young man with a beefy stature. He had an arrogant look carved into his chubby, round face, and sported a smirk that evoked the desire to punch his fucking teeth out. I instinctively knew that they were the main culprits for my past suffering. That was everything I was able to get from the memories before they vanished again.
"Fucking hell…" I sighed, a furious growl escaped my throat.
Venting off my anger on the tree next to me, I let my claws ravage its surface to the point the trunk started to groan with snapping noises. I pushed the tree and jumped back as it descended to the ground with a heavy thump.
"Someone has to pay," I grumbled after I finally calmed down. Lifting my hands, I started to ponder as I watched the sharpness my ink-black claws flashing dangerously under the morning that shined from the clear, blue sky. "The old me is gone… whoever he was. The new me will kill the ones that were responsible for my past suffering, but I won't let hate and anger devour me. This is my new life, and I will do as I please and roam the world freely!"
To honor my pledge, I released the rest of my anger with a long, wolfish howl that ascended into the sky. My companions joined me in a choir as I continued my wolfish melody for a couple of seconds more.
My thoughts wandered to the two players that I killed, and I vowed that I would wait a bit longer and analyze the situation before I make any hasty move I would regret. The boyfriend didn't run away but stayed to fight for his helpless girlfriend. He didn't care about the huge snake monster but wanted to protect his love. He was probably a decent guy, his girl too. But they are dead now, and I killed them…
"Why did I kill so easily?" I asked myself with a shake of my head as I made my way back to the road. "Am I a psycho, or what is wrong with me?! The girl was super cute! What kind of asshole kills a beauty in distress?! Yeah, a fucking psycho would do that!"
I might sound insensible, but the argument wasn't unreasonable. Even without my memories, I could tell without much effort that I was the type of guy that fell in love with every beauty. Beauties with long legs, sexy bodies, round, perfect breasts, and delicious tan-lines made my heart warm up with passion and love. I loved everything beautiful. Not only of girls but nature as well, I loved the sky, the ocean, and to breathe fresh air. Running around unrestrained and free made me feel happy and carefree, and killing powerful beasts with my claws even more so.
To make it short, I enjoy the beauty of life.
On the other hand, something in my 'past life' took away this joy for life and replaced it with hatred, suffering, and a good portion of humiliation. Everything became grey and tasteless, and soul-crushing loneliness was my only company.
"But that time is gone now," I snarled with a fierce grin as my legs carried me through the forest with inhuman speed. "My name is Vincent. I will become the strongest, the wildest, and the most beautiful werewolf and adventurer! Every woman will desire to sleep with me, and every man will envy me because of how awesome I am going to be!"
"Hahahahahaha!!!" I couldn't help it anymore and burst with a cheerful and carefree laugher.
As quickly as I descended into the dark abyss of hatred and fury, I managed to push myself up and soared to the luminous skies of joy. Every man forges his own destiny! With every defeat, you either stand up and keep on fighting, or give up and let darkness devour your heart and mind until it leaves you sitting in a puddle of tears of sorrow and regret.
Yes, I could feel the darkness inside me, hiding in the deepest regions of my heart, but I decided to punch it in the gut the next time it dared to bother me.
No thanks, I am not buying your shit, fuck you!