Seth was fiddling with his status when he heard a sharp cry like an eagle ’s in the sky. The sound pierced his eardrums and instantly gave him a headache. Shielding his eyes, Seth looked up into the sky trying to see through the gaps between trees.
It was a shadow. A big shadow. So big, that Seth instantly jumped into the ruins of a half broken house to hide. Whatever it was, he didn ’t want to meet it. But fate obviously had different plans.
The shadow dove towards the ground and stopped above the front lawn of the burning house. With an earth-shattering thump the figure landed where Seth had stood but a moment ago.
Terrifying big claws clasped down on the torso as a sharp black beak tore into the burned body of the headless orc.
The best description Seth could come up with was calling it a griffin. The creature had the muscular build of a lion and the head of a raptor. On the other hand it had three snakes for tails and big leathery bat wings, fitting it´s black leathery skin, glinting in the sun like polished leather. He was pretty sure a griffin wasn ’t supposed to look like this, but he would call it that for now.
The griffin must have been lured here by the smell of burning flesh. It was enthusiastically digging into the half fried orc and if Seth was lucky, it would take it ’s time and eat the goblins, too.
”Don ’t notice me, don ’t notice me~ ”, he chanted in his mind and turned around to peer into the darkness behind him.
Leaving the feasting predator behind, Seth slowly and quietly crawled deeper into the ruined house.
He twitched every time he made a noise. Any sound felt way too loud in this situation, Seth even controlled his breathing, keeping it as shallow as possible.
Hiding in the overgrown undergrowth. Only pieces of walls indicated that there had been another half of this house. Everything was moist, covered in vines and moss as if it had been destroyed for decades. It was a really disturbing sight, if one knew that this happened in just the last two or so days.
After Seth was sure that he was far enough away, he stood up again to keep walking. Using the map as an indication he took a relatively straight path into the woods. Somewhere in this direction was Deltan, or City D, was a satellite city in the north, closer to the coast. Deltan had fallen victim to an earthquake some months ago and was supposed to be mostly in ruins right now. This was what Seth counted on. What he needed to level his skills were resources! And after testing the inventory, he was sure that he could harvest the steel from reinforced concrete. So for now Seth planned to build a base in Deltan and concentrate on growing his skills.
He just hoped the woods would end at some point…if he kept going in a straight line, the forest would have to end at some point, right?
Time passed slowly…
Seth didn ’t meet a lot of monsters, mostly giant insects he avoided with a passion. But the climate and exhaustion of walking and cutting a path into the dense thicket got to him. Seth had to take a break. He had been going for several hours and the daylight was starting to dim again. He hadn ’t slept for almost a day. Even with his grown attributes, this was as far as he could go for now. Should he start investing Attribute Points? He had really wanted to get as much attribute points as possible by training, before using his free ones…
It couldn ’t be helped for now! He clapped his hand and decide to eat something. When in doubt, fill your stomach. Seth summoned the Spirit Smithy. After dimming the flame a little, he used the fire of the forge to fry a big portion of beans in his pan. He felt like a bandit in a spaghetti western! Filling his stomach with beans restored some of his stamina. A good rest and meal had calmed Seth ’s mind down. He thought about his situation and had an idea. He wanted to train up the attributes corresponding to his class, like STR and DEX, so he wouldn ’t waste Attribute Points. But there was another attribute that could help him right now and was a pain in the butt to train for him: Agility.
Agility was the coordinated movement of the body. Movement speed, reaction speed, evasion rate, stamina consumption. His AGI was quite good from the start, but it hadn ’t grown ever since. Seth had an inkling that the growth of AGI might have a restriction thanks to his class. That ’s why he decided to dump some of his Free AP in AGI and bring it up to 20, making it his highest attribute for now.
The effect was immediate. His bodies movements became lighter and smoother and he felt that he had a lot more control and sense of balance than before. He felt less like a smith and more like an gymnast now.
Seth felt very energetic and immediately restarted his journey. Thanks to the newly acquired coordination and control Seth lost a lot less energy traveling in the forest. Despite not feeling completely exhausted, he stopped soon at the foot of a giant tree.
The night was approaching.
Nighttime in the forest was definitely not something one wanted to experience and Seth really needed some sleep. He had found the entrance to a cave below the roots of the tree. Upon entering the cave it became clear that this was not a cave. It had been the basement of a house, before the gigantic tree crushed it under its roots, only leaving this corner of the basement.
”This works… ”, he mumbled tiredly, pulling out several blankets. Seth had gotten rid of what little camping equipment he had long before the apocalypse, so he could only bring stuff he had at home.
On the other hand, who needs a tent, or a sleeping bag, if he can have a-
”Summon Spirit Smithy! ”, Seth said, summoning it in front of the entrance. A smithy would always be nice and warm! Rolled snugly into a few blankets, he nestled against the forge. Enjoying the heat of the Soul Fire, he easily fell asleep.
His sleep was comfortable and dreamless. When he woke up it was so blissfully warm, that he felt, as if he was wrapped in the fires caring embrace.
Seth had breakfast and continued his journey. Fortunately the undergrowth finally became lighter. Shrubs and small trees became sparse and were replaced by the thick trunks of gargantuan trees. the trees had diameters of at least 10-20 metres!
Parts and pieces of ruins and streets made their appearance again, even though they looked centuries old, with how the trees had broken them apart.
It was a quite fantastical scenery, reminding him of recent fantasy movies.
The canopy of trees was so dense that almost no light was able to find it´s way to the ground. It was so dark that Seth could barely see anything, even darker than the twilight below the hanging tree. The ground under his feet was dry and covered in old leaves and sticks that often broke loud and unnervingly similar to bones below his feet.
He had stopped wondering how exactly these environments came to be in such a short time. Happy over the much clearer way his speed increased a lot. He kept his course thanks to the map. The biome title had changed and it was called ”The Dark Woods ”, very fitting. Seth mused over this as he kept running.
Until he heard that cry again.
With an ear-piercing shriek he could make out the shadow of another weird griffin jumping between the high branches of the trees. This one was even bigger than the last one, at least the size of a big horse or a bull and had two snake tails.
Seth had no choice but to hide by running to the opposite side of the tree. This was the disadvantage of having no undergrowth anymore, it became a lot harder to hide from such flying predators. He just hoped that it had not yet seen him.
Maybe the presence of these monsters also explained why he had not encountered any creatures or animals since entering the forest… they were probably the apex predator around here.
Seth really didn ’t want to confront something like that, yet.
His hopes were in vain. The griffin jumped off the branch it was sitting on and glided down to the ground. Seth heard a big thump in the place he had just stood. There was no burned corpse there this time, it had definitely seen him…
It was right on the other side of Seth ’s tree, and he could actually hear it sniffing on the ground!
”I ’m so dead… ” he whispered. The griffin followed his scent and its heavy steps came closer to the tree. It totally smelled him. Which wasn ’t hard, he had been on the run for more than a day, even an old lady could smell him from a mile away.
In the same way the griffin was going around the tree, Seth listened to its steps and tried to synchronize with the predator and kept going around the tree. Maybe he could scooby doo his way out of this one? The tree was humongous, bigger than a sequoia, he could definitely-
Seth tripped over something on the ground and fell, face first, on the ground. He just wanted to start cursing, when he remembered that there was a griffin coming for his buttocks. But his face lit up when he saw what he stumbled upon!
A motorbike! It was half-buried, stuck under an enormous tree root. If he could get it free, maybe- no no no! This wasn ’t the time for this, the griffin was coming!
In a panic Seth squeezed under the root in a hollow space beside the bike. There was a ledge in the darkness and only emptiness in front of him. The thumping of footsteps grew louder.
”Aww, f*ck it… ”, Seth swore and squeeze in completely. He fell though darkness and landed on a hard concrete floor.
Looking up he could see the hole he squeezed through some distance above him. The walls felt smooth and cold below his hand…concrete? He remembered the bike he stumbled over.
” Maybe A workshop pit? ”, Seth guessed sliding his hands across the walls to orient himself. Suddenly it became completely dark in the workshop pit. The little light that fell in from the gap was blocked by the griffins shadow.
Seth tensed up. ”Oh please keep going…don ’t mind me and just go… ”, he prayed in his mind, holding his breath in fear.
The Griffin stood there for a while and sniffed, but passed by in the end. After several minutes of waiting and holding his breath, Seth exhaled.
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