DISCOVERY PART 3C
Day 426; 1435 (Afternoon)
Rialla: "I must applaud you. You are quite the huntsman~."
Rialla complimented, as she finished swallowing the last piece of meat 513 had provided her.
She had eaten approximately half of all the racked meat cooking inside the smoke pit, including raw cuts. Without any shame, she blamed her gluttony on her size. Of course, that was not something 513 cared for.
Hoping that he had offered enough food to appear more favorable to the wolf, 513 resumed his inquiry.
513: "Now that you're finished, will you tell me the purpose of your visit?"
Rialla: "Hoho, did I say I was satisfied with such meagre portions~?"
Rialla chided while licking her paws.
513: "Eclipse Wolf, I'm not in the mood to play this game of yours."
Replied 513, annoyed.
Rialla: "What is this game you speak of?"
Rialla teased, feigning ignorance.
Rialla: "And why do you speak as-if you are familiar with me?"
513: "You came to me…and I just fed you..."
[...bitch.] 513 cursed inwardly.
Seeing 513's eyes narrow with animosity, Rialla's fluffy ears twitched.
She had a keen sense for detecting slander, especially when she was the recipient.
As such, she gave 513 an ominous look and a threatening smile.
In reaction, 513 thought to himself. [Ah shit. I forgot this bastard had that uncanny ability.]
513: "...haaah, fuck it all."
513 muttered in a sigh, acknowledging his own mistake.
In response, Rialla's ears twitched once more. This time, out of curiosity.
Rialla: "Fuck? Explain what fuck is. You have spoken that word before, but your use here is different from our previous meeting."
Surprised by Rialla's sudden interest, 513 decided to test his luck.
513: "It's a number. A number of fucks I give."
Still curious, Rialla continued.
Rialla: "Interesting. So, a 'fuck' is a unit of measure. So, having given 'all the fucks', how much does that amount to?"
513 grinned like an idiot and responded.
513: "ZERO. Exactly ZERO fucks."
Rialla: "...hmm. What a troublesome unit of measure."
Replied Rialla, after a brief pause; she was still confused by the definition she had been given.
[...this is too easy.] 513 laughed inwardly.
513: "...so long as you understand."
513 responded with a stone face; his eyes betrayed his appearance, so he kept them shut.
With 513 acting more cordial around her, Rialla decided it was time to properly introduce herself.
Rialla: "Very well. Before we delve into further discussions, introductions are in order."
"I shall start. My name is Rialla, envoy to the Protector of these lands."
Rialla: "...and you are…?"
[Hmm...how should I answer this?] 513 pondered. [My original name means nothing in this place...oh, I got it!]
513: "My true name no longer serves a purpose. Call me whatever you wish."
Rialla: "Interesting...understood. Then I shall call you Trespasser from now on."
513: "...sure, why not."
Replied 513, unenthused.
From that point on, he understood how Rialla viewed his existence inside of the forest.
[Trespasser, eh?...better than being labelled an enemy, I suppose.]
Rialla: "Trespasser, as envoy to the Protector of these lands, I implore you to take note of the following statements. These words are from the Protector and are not my own. The Protector's words are absolute."
Rialla then closed her eyes to recollect the message from the Protector while correcting her posture to sit upright. When she was ready, she recited the Protector’s message.
Rialla: "As a foreign entity in these lands, you are required to prove your worth. You live because I allow you to live..."
"...these lands are ancient and sacred. It should be venerated and protected. Troublemakers will not be tolerated."
Hearing this, 513 looked from side-to-side, taking a glance at the desolate land which made-up the dead zone, and spoke.
513: "Uhh, this. I did not do any of this."
He pleaded while pointing at the ruined environment buried under the snow.
Opening her eyes, Rialla stared at 513 with contempt.
Rialla: "...which is why you still live."
513: "Ah, right."
Rialla: "May I continue?"
513: "Go ahead."
Rialla: "If you can, try your best not to...interrupt me until I finish~."
Rialla mockingly warned 513, reminding him of the same words he had used on her just moments ago.
Closing her eyes once more, Rialla continued with the Protector's message.
Rialla: "As a visitor of these lands, you are neither an enemy nor a guest. You are a neutral party. I shall not seek you with hostility, and you shall not seek me for assistance…"
"As a visitor, you MUST abide by my laws. These laws are unconditional..."
"The first law: These lands are NOT your home;"
"The second law: You shall ONLY hunt and gather enough to feed yourself;"
"The third law: You shall dispatch ALL monsters you encounter;"
"The fourth law: You shall NOT cause unnecessary destruction;"
"The fifth law: You shall NOT harm those who represent me, my name, or my position;"
"The sixth law: Misrepresenting me, my name, or my position is punishable by death.
"The seventh law: You shall NOT lay claim to land under my protection."
Opening her eyes after she had finished, Rialla laid down next to the smoke-pit and waited for 513 to start asking questions.
[Reasonable laws.] 513 thought. [First, I should clarify a few things.]
513: "So...you are a beast, correct?"
Rialla: "I am a sapient and intelligent beast, yes."
[Sapience...she makes it sound like that is a normal occurrence.] Contemplated 513.
513: "What is the difference between a beast and a monster?"
Rialla: "Monsters are invading forces; those that are alien to this world -- those that seek this world's destruction; they are a plague; they are blight."
[That is...somehow I'm not surprised by that answer.] Thought 513. [However, what does that make me?]
513: "I see...as an alien -- as a foreigner to this world -- what differentiates me from that of a monster?"
Rialla's right eye twitched upon hearing his question.
[Amusing. He believes he isn't one...well, my opinions shouldn't interfere with the truth.] Rialla thought.
Rialla: "The difference is your rebirth."
The answer was not something 513 expected, but he quickly regained his composure. Afterall, thoughts regarding his arrival in the new world had already been explored by him during long, sleepless nights -- including thoughts of reconstruction and rebirth.
Learning the truth, many things started making sense, like his superhuman traits.
513: "Am I correct in assuming that...that my body has been modified to adapt to this world's environment? To fit this world's natural laws? This world's order?"
Rialla: "Your inference is indeed correct."
[So my traits aren't special.] 513 told himself, slightly disheartened. [No matter. It makes no difference.]
513: "How do you know all of this?"
Closing her eyes as-if she had anticipated the question, Rialla recited what the Protector had told her.
Rialla: "You are not the first of your kind, nor will you be the last. In time, you will understand your place in this world-"
At this point, everything had been going smoothly, at least until Rialla noticed something amiss.
*SNIFF* *SNIFF* *SNIFF*
Rialla sniffed the air around 513, then immediately stood-up on all fours, giving 513 a serious look like she was ready for battle.
513: "Wha-What's wrong?"
513 asked, confused why things took a drastic turn for the worst.
Gripping his weighted practice spear with his left hand, he readied himself for what might come his way.
Rialla: "Y-you are not whole! You are fragmented! Trespasser, what are you?!"
Rialla responded, panicked.
[This cannot be. I assumed his lack of presence was due to him being weak. Was I wrong? Could this man be hiding his presence on purpose? For what reason? Are his intentions sinister?] Rialla contemplated. [His scent is a mixture of a Traveller and something else. Could he be a new species of Invader? Have our enemies succeeded in infiltrating our world without a mass summon? If so, why now?]
The Protector had always warned Rialla of the cunning and capable Invaders bestowed with high rank -- Invader, being the formal classification for a monster. They had always made themselves scarce, only appearing at crucial moments during times of upheaval.
Highly intelligent Invaders, like Breylords, acted very much like Travellers. The difference was, they were harbingers of terror -- vanguards that initiate war.
To mitigate lasting damage, Breylords were the first to be sought-out and eliminated by Halian natives. However, if left alone, a single Breylord had the potential to raze an entire nation.
From the confusing scent that he gave-off, Rialla suspected 513 to be a high-ranking Invader. Perhaps even higher than a Breylord
Rialla: "I-I must excuse myself for now. We will reconvene once I settle a few private matters. Until then."
Rialla hurriedly excused herself as she made her hasty escape.
[What the hell…fragmented? What did she mean?] 513 thought to himself as he watched Rialla leap over his bulwark walls and sprint into the thickets of the forest.
513: "Of course, she conveniently runs away before answering all of my questions."
He said while sulking.
513: "So let's review. I am a visitor, not a guest; I am required to kill monsters; I was… rebirthed; there are others like me; and I am a fragment of myself…"
"...in other words, I am being tested and watched; my goal is...no...my duty is to eliminate threats, like monsters; I was...remade...so I died on Earth; the existence of those like me are not uncommon in this world; and lastly, I'm fucked-up…"
"...that changes absolutely NOTHING for me."
He spoke through gritted teeth.
513: "None of it matters if I die here, alone."
His anger over the situation continued to rise until it boiled-over.
513 screamed, slamming his weighted practice spear into the ground.
A cloud of debris filled the air as the impact of his slam shook the dirt beneath his feet. After the flurry of frozen dirt and snow settled, a miniature crater appeared where 513's drill yard had once stood.
Feeling regret and shame for losing his cool, 513 slumped-over, placing most of his weight on whatever remained of his practice spear. Eventually, he sat down to meditate.
[Haaah, that was a mistake.] He coolly thought. [When was the last time I completely lost myself to emotion? What a pity.]
After calming down, 513 set the remnants of his shattered practice spear aside and spent the rest of the day constructing spiked barricades, pitfalls, and trigger traps along the outside of his bulwark walls. By nightfall, the amount of defenses installed throughout his basecamp had doubled.
As the night grew darker, 513 retired into his living quarters to prepare his dinner. Once he had his fill of food and drink, he sat beside the makeshift desk he had made the day before and revisited the contents of the Protector's message.
[Visitor…proving myself...conditions...hmm. I see, so that's what the Protector intends to do.]
513: "A pawn."
He whispered into the air.
513: "To treat me like a pawn on a chessboard...if that is the Protector's intentions, then I'll show that bastard the meaning of ruthlessness...I will not become someone else's dog or soldier in a war I know nothing about."
"War? Battle? I'll participate on my own terms."