It was a Friday, and classes ended earlier than before. The group of three left for their dorms, but it didn take long before they separated.

Jason was the first to leave, saying he had some personal issues to attend to. Shane hadn been the only one acting strangely, but even Jason. They got to see him less often, and even during classes, he would just leave and come back with a broken nose or swollen eyes.

And when Ethan asked about it, he would reply.

”I just got into a little fight with a rival. But its okay, Im plenty strong. ”

Ethan just hoped they weren keeping more secrets than him. Not long after Jason left, Shane also left, but Ethan didn try to stop him, for he was planning to do something.

Ethan followed Shane closely behind, but he was never for once good at spying. Shane kept glancing behind him furiously, and when he was sure no one was looking he snuck into the forest and Ethan also followed but he was extra careful which made him lose Shane.

In on their first day at the academy, Tricia had sternly warned them not to go close to the woods. Yes it wasn really restricted, but to be cautious, they had warned all the first years to stay away from the place.

According to Tricia, the forest was filled with all sorts of deadly beasts then the students might not be able to handle. Ethan would have decided to turn back, but he remembered seeing Shane sneaking into this place every day. And if he was right, Shane got the lowest point in the introductory test, which should meant Shane, was even weaker than him.

He followed the footprints he could see, but after walking for some minutes, the footprints began to get more random and he was getting lost. But he still didn turn back. If Shane came here every day and comes back although hurt but not dead, then it shouldn be so dangerous.

Then Ethan came across the first beast. It was a dog like beast, and it lay on the floor unmoving. When Ethan looked closely, it also looked like a part of it was thorn away, and the beast gem had been extracted.

”This should be Shanes doing. ” That was the only explanation Ethan could think of. It was true beasts got into fights with each other, but this looked like it was killed by a human. But was Shane strong enough to kill such a beast. Even though it was just a basic tier beast, Ethan knew he would struggle to kill such a thing on his own.

As Ethan continued moving, he kept seeing beasts carcasses, with each of their gems extracted, and they didn seem to be dead for long.

Somehow, he didn encounter any beast on his way and took that as a sign of luck. But soon another problem rose. He looked at the sky and realized the sun was set, and it would be soon time for curfew.

He thought of making his way back to the academy, but as he was about to turn back, something shiny caught his gaze. He realized it was a little knife and around it was a human blood. He knew this because according to what he was taught, beasts blood was black while humans were red. The fact that he was seeing this only meant Shane was close. He picked up the knife and follows the trial of blood until he was close enough to hear a sound.

”Shane must be in trouble. ” He thought and ran as fast as he could toward the sound.

After running for some minutes, he finally got there and saw Shane locked in battle with a beast. It was the same hound like beast, except this one was bigger and was radiation more energy. Most likely, this one was not a basic tier, but an intermediate tier beast.

Beasts were also ranked into different tiers, the first, basic tier; which is the weakest tier of beast, and the second, intermediate tier. But the thing was, even though an intermediate tier was only one step up the chain, the gap in power between it and that of the basic tier was vast, and that could be said for the higher tiers. Even if a horde of basic tier team up to fight an intermediate tier, the intermediate tier was most likely to come out on top.

Shane had a knife pointed at the red hound, but he was in no condition fo fight. His clothes were tattered. Cuts and would were all over him, and he was nearly unrecognizable with the amount of blood on his. The beast also wasn faring so well, but it still stood strong. Ethan knew no miracle would help Shane win the fight.

The red hound crouched on its hind, and with a great force, pulled itself in the air ready for Shanes head. Shane tried to move out of the way, but missed his footing and tumbled to the floor. By then, the red hound was only inches away from his face, and he shot his eyes waiting for pain to surge through him. But the pain never came.

He opened his eyes and saw the red hound on the floor, with a knife impaled in its neck.

”Shane, come on lets get out of here. ” Ethan rushed from behind the tree.

”What! How did he get here? ” Shane thought.

Ethan dragged him up and tried to pull him, but he didn budge.

”Get away from me. I thought I made it clear I don want any one meddling in my business. ” Shane shouted

Ethan was shocked. He actually expected Shane to thank him, but here he was screaming at him, after he just saved his life.

”You
e going to die. ” Ethan said, ”The beast will kill you. ”

Shane shook his head in disappointment and pushed Ethan out of the way before the beast pounded on him.

”Thats it, I just saved you, now leave. ”

The red hound was now stationed in between them. The knife was still impaled in its neck, black blood seeping out, but they needed more than that to kill it. Ethan stood up, and the hound jumped aiming at him. He rolled, and the hound missed. But that wasn what the beast was aiming, and Ethan also realized it. The beast was now standing in front of their only escape route.

The beast growled and took steps after steps toward them and it wasn long before they got trapped.

”What do we do now? ” Ethan asked.

Shane had an idea. ”Ill cause a distraction and when I say go, you run out of here. ”

”No, I can leave you. I – ”

Shane was frustrated. ”Didn you say we can beat the beast? Once I cause the distraction, you leave and go get help, alright. ”

Ethan nodded. ”Okay. But stay alive long enough for help to arrive. ”

When they were ready, Shane sprang head first and when he was close to the hound, twisted his body and left a fresh mark on the beasts back. The beast growled, focusing all its attention on Shane.

”NOW! ”

Ethan didn hesitate; he launched himself and ran as fast as he could. But on his way, he heard a loud growl, and for some reason he stopped in his stride. He knew Shanes life counted on him, but for reason, he felt like Shane needed help. He doubted Shane can last long against such powerful beast.

When he got back there, he was shocked by what he was seeing. At first, he saw Shane pull out one of the gems hed extracted from the previous basic tier beasts. Then the crystal began to turn into sand, with a white mist entering into him. Shane opened his blood red eyes.

”You asked for this. ” He said, but even Ethan couldn understand. It sounded more like a growl.

Afterwards, he saw his roommate turn into a beast.

* * * * * TO BE CONTINUED * * * * *

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