Chapter 23 – Cold
Snow stormed throughout the forest.
The ground was covered with nearly a meter of snow, and the trees had transformed into silhouettes of ice and snow.
It was the height of winter.
It had been about four months since Alex had arrived in this world.
Currently, it was noon. Sadly, the sun couldn ’t be seen clearly as a violent blizzard stormed throughout the forest.
Judging by the nearly horizontal icicles on the trees, this blizzard had been going on for a long time already.
Suddenly, something pushed the snow beneath a huge, dead tree to the side.
An opened door was revealed, which led to a small, warm area beneath the tree without snow.
A figure cloaked in black stepped out of the area.
Everything about the figure had been hidden by black fur, including the figure ’s head.
The figure looked like a faceless shadow of fur.
This was Alex.
Alex had finished his hut in time, but the hut hadn ’t been able to resist the storms in the winter, which was why it had collapsed.
Now, Alex only lived in a tiny ”room ” at the bottom of the dead tree. Only a diagonal barrier of wood protected him from the cold snow.
This was the best Alex could do in this situation.
Luckily, it was effective enough.
Right now, the temperatures even reached -40 degrees Celsius, which was frightening for someone living outside.
However, Alex didn ’t feel cold at all.
Something was keeping him warm, even while traveling through the forest.
Alex slowly stepped through the forest.
Why was Alex walking through this blizzard?
Because he had no other choice.
Alex ’s food had run out several days ago, and he had wanted to wait for the blizzard ’s end.
However, the blizzard just didn ’t end.
A conspicuous, dark shadow traveled across the snowy forest, the only dark thing in sight.
It was an oddity.
’I need food, ’ Alex thought. ’As soon as I get some food, I can continue training. ’
Alex had summoned the Hegemon of the forest several times by now, and he had somewhat grown accustomed to the terrifying experiences that followed.
Additionally, Alex ’s swordsmanship had also increased considerably.
Alex hadn ’t had any guided training on swordsmanship, but he had continually trained all the different kinds of attacks and moves he could perform.
As long as his movements became more fluid, faster, and more powerful, his combat power should increase.
Alex didn ’t know if he had any weaknesses in his movements, but there was no way to rectify them, even if he had them.
The creatures weren ’t smart enough to notice the openings in Alex ’s movements.
Alex pushed himself through the snow.
However, he wasn ’t exactly walking upright.
The snow was already very high, and Alex decided to use the snow as cover. Because of that, Alex walked with a lowered posture, not showing himself anywhere. He would only raise his head above the snow cover occasionally to search for prey.
Alex had always traveled through the forest at night.
Because he needed stealth.
In the day, Alex ’s prey would see him from a distance and run away.
Now, this was no longer a problem.
Alex ’s body had become terrifyingly powerful, and he had no problems in reaching 50 – 60 kilometers per hour even with all his equipment.
Now, the light of day was an advantage instead of a disadvantage for him.
However, there had been one more reason why Alex hadn ’t traveled during the day.
What did this have to do with the time of day?
Well, most predators hunted at night.
For the same reasons as Alex had hunted at night. They needed stealth in order to catch their prey and run away.
Yet, what about the predators that hunted during the day?
One only had to think back to earth and think about what predators were active during the night and which predators were active during the day.
In North America, the predators that were active during the night were mostly small animals like weasels, for example. Yet, bears were active during the day.
There were fewer predators active during the day, but the ones that were active had a higher likelihood of being far more powerful.
Additionally, if a weaker predator were active during the day, there would be a high likelihood that they would be caught by a bigger predator due to the light of day.
The ones that needed to hide were active during the night.
The ones that didn ’t need to hide were active during the day.
Alex had killed two more Stalkers in the past couple of months, and he had also killed a gigantic anaconda, which had been a bit more powerful than a normal Stalker.
The anaconda had shot ice projectiles at Alex, which he had been able to defend against with his new cloak, at least to some degree. The projectiles still shot through Alex ’s cloak, but he hadn ’t been injured that heavily.
The ice projectiles also explained why such a tropical animal as an anaconda lived in such a cold climate.
Ever since then, Alex hadn ’t felt challenged again.
This was also one of the reasons why Alex came out during the day instead of the night.
The God had told Alex that he should become more powerful by throwing himself into danger.
Right now, as long as Alex kept himself hidden during the day, he wouldn ’t be in any danger anymore.
This was enough to survive but not enough to reach true power.
Alex knew that he had to push himself.
And wasn ’t this a prime opportunity for him?
Such a powerful blizzard would make it harder for a big creature to move around. Additionally, the blizzard would interfere with the eyes, nose, and ears of the creature.
In comparison, Alex had a thin, nearly transparent piece of skin over his eyes. This protected his eyes from the blizzard.
Alex traveled through the snowy forest for nearly thirty minutes, leaving behind a crevice in the snow cover.
Alex had seen about two white rabbits up to now, but he wasn ’t interested in them.
He wanted bigger prey.
After a while, Alex arrived in front of a lake. This was the lake in the middle of the forest.
Alex wanted to come here since there were fewer trees in the way. If something traveled across the frozen lake, Alex would be able to spot it.
The lake was about a kilometer wide, making it neither small nor big.
However, the closer Alex got to the lake, the colder he felt.
’Is the temperature dropping? ’ Alex thought.
When Alex reached the edge of the lake, he felt like the temperature had dropped by another 20 degrees.
What was going on?
Why was it so much colder here?
As Alex looked at the lake, he got his answer.
Alex narrowed his eyes as he saw the two things in the middle of the lake.
One thing was something that was difficult to describe. It was some form of force. Some white air came out of the lake in the form of a spire, about two meters tall. It almost looked illusory. Several icicles and broken pieces of ice were seemingly levitating around the white, illusory spire.
’This is the thing that ’s causing all this coldness, and I ’m sure that this thing wasn ’t here before, ’ Alex thought.
pᴀɴdᴀ nᴏveʟ Then, Alex looked at the other thing. ’And that thing too. ’
What was the other thing?
An ice bear.
A big one.
A really big one.
The ice bear was probably nearly three meters tall, which was insane. That was the height of an elephant!
This thing probably weighed several tons!
By now, Alex had cultivated some sort of feeling of animals and creatures.
How powerful did this creature feel?
Far more powerful than a Stalker.
More powerful than the ice anaconda.
Probably a bit weaker than the gigantic lizard Alex had seen on the mountains on his first day.
Far weaker than the Hegemon.
The bear slept beside the spire.
’This spire probably releases something that makes it easier for creatures with the ice element to become more powerful. I don ’t know if there are types of Mana, but if there were, this would probably be concentrated Ice Mana. ’
Alex looked at his surroundings a bit more and found some bones strewn around the lake.
’I think nearly all animals with an Ice Affinity are drawn to this spire, but this bear has probably won the bloody battle. ’
Alex remembered the gigantic lizard he had seen on his first day.
’The lizard didn ’t dare to enter the basin, but this bear did. Yet, this bear only feels a bit weaker than that lizard. ’
’This probably means that this bear represents the highest power allowed by the Hegemon. Judging by the fear of the lizard, anything more powerful than this bear will probably be killed by the Hegemon. I don ’t know how the hedgehog does it, but that ’s the only explanation I can come up with. ’
Alex narrowed his eyes and gritted his teeth.
’It ’s a huge risk, but I ’m supposed to risk my life. It doesn ’t feel like I would be helpless in front of this bear, but it also doesn ’t feel like I can win. It ’s a gamble. ’
Alex ’s fist shook in conflict, but eventually, it relaxed.
’If I turn back now, I will turn back again later. I can ’t allow that! ’
Alex readied his sword and patted the side of his torso a bit to check for something.
Then, he walked towards the lake.
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