Chapter 1. A Mysterious Encounter (2)
“Hah! Hoh! Hah!”
After running for a while, the man was soaked in his own sweat, as if someone had dumped a bucket of water on top of him.
His breath was extremely rough as he perilously hung on a cliff wall, his exhalations particularly quick.
Gradually, the man managed to slow down his desperate gasps for air, his face relaxing slightly.
Only then did he look up towards the edge of the cliff.
“A-are they gone?”
A sound came from above him in response, followed by a grey pointy head that popped out over the edge.
The man’s face scrunched up immediately.
Cries of denial howled out from above in response to the man’s words.
They were not dogs, but wolves.
“Fuckin’ hell! I wouldn’t be feeling this bad if I had at least gotten a drumstick.”
The man frowned again as he hung on the cliff.
He had scoured the mountain all day and found himself a rabbit to eat.
That, in itself, was great luck.
Since the rabbit was trapped already, it wasn’t that hard for him to catch it. But it was only as he skinned it did he realized his mistake.
Skinning it released the smell of blood.
Because of that, he couldn’t even take the rabbit. Instead, he almost ended up serving himself to the wolves.
Although he had tried to tame the dogs with the techniques he learned back in the army, that very obviously failed. In the end, the only choice for him, was to run.
If there was just one wolf, or even two, he would have taken out his saw-like blade and fought them.
In fact, he would have appreciated all the extra food he would get from doing so.
Despite currently being a deserter, he had spent over two decades of his life on the battle. Luck isn’t the only reason why he’s still living now
If it weren’t for his fatigue, he would’ve been able to take on two wolves easily as long as he had his sword; no, even a rock would have done the job. But the sheer number of wolves made him give up on that thought immediately.
There were easily more than twenty here. He didn’t even think about resisting.
The first thing he looked for as he ran was a tree.
If he could find a big enough tree, he might be able to stay there safely. However, fate had decided to betray him yet again, ensuring that there were no trees of the right size. Even so, by some strange luck he had managed to find a cliff by the end.
Why was this lucky?
This was of course due to the structural difference between a man and a wolf.
A man could climb down the cliff with his hands, but a wolf couldn’t.
As a result, the man could escape the wolves’ teeth by climbing off the cliff.
What followed was the current situation.
“Damn it all!”
The man made a desperate face.
Not only was he quickly losing his arm strength, but there was also a massive storm brewing in his stomach.
He was hungry, thirsty and tired…
But so what?
If he let go, he’d definitely die.
After all, he couldn’t even see the bottom.
If he had heard water below him or something, he would have considered letting go. However, the only sound that came up from below him was that of a ghostly wind.
“Oi! You shit-dogs! You won’t even be able to eat anything if I fall!”
When the man shouted with all his strength, a few of the wolves had poked their head out from the cliff.
Did they understand what he said?
One of the wolves stared at the man for a bit, then barked.
It was just a single bark, but this sound rode down the cliff, and resounded with an echo.
Soon, a single response could be heard from the bottom of the cliff.
“Bark, bark, bark! Aoooo!”
This was the wolves’ kind way of informing the man that no matter what, the wolves could still eat him.
This alone was reason enough for the man to fall into despair.
As the man cried, the night got darker and darker.
* * *
“Bark, bark, bark!”
At the cliff, whenever a bark came from above, a response would come from below.
“Am I the only one left on this entire mountain for all of you to eat…..?”
The moon had long since risen, but the wolves were still talking to each other at the cliff. The man, too, had yet to give up on life.
Thanks to the few rocks that lay below him, he was able to keep himself up for longer than he had expected, but he was already well past his limit.
Part of the stone cracked, causing a few pebbles to break off and fall from the rock he was standing on. The wolves responded by barking at the man from below.
“Bark, bark! Bark, bark, bark! Aoooooo!”
“You bitches might as well sit there with your mouths open. That way you can just gobble me right up when I fall.”
The man’s voice no longer contained the same amount of energy as before.
He let out a long sigh.
Struggling for life like this even when it was so hopeless made him feel rather pitiful.
Of course, that didn’t mean he was going to give up just yet, not that he was planning on it anytime soon.
It was just a simple observation of his.
“I would’ve been dead already if I were like that.”
He straightened out his thoughts once more.
At the age of thirteen, he had been conscripted simply because he was a little bigger than other kids his age. From that point on, he had fought for his survival for twenty years straight.
During that time, the things he had experienced were numbered in the tens of thousands.
Venturing through all of them made him want to die on countless occasions, but he never truly acted upon those instincts.
Despite how he always spoke of dying, he had developed a tenacious attachment to his life. It was to the point that, regardless of what he did, he just wanted to come out alive in the end.
Such a strong mindset couldn’t be changed by encountering a few wolves… Not that it changed his situation by much.
Right then, the man’s beloved weapon(?) slipped from his waist and fell down the cliff.
He instinctively twisted his body towards the blade to keep it from falling out of his waist. This only caused the old rope attached to the weapon to rip, falling out of his grasp completely. Though it was weird-looking and resembled a saw more than anything else, that sword was like a precious treasure to the man.
The time it took for the sword to hit the ground was suspiciously short. No, the problem was that it sounded like it had fallen very close to him.
“Bark, bark, bark, bark!”
Woken up by the sound, the wolves began barking ferociously.
The noise from the wolves below him proved that his sword had landed closer to him than it should’ve.
Even though it was night right now, he couldn’t recall seeing anything below him that his sword could have dropped down to. Even so, the sound he heard earlier was unmistakable.
He couldn’t waste any more time thinking.
Since the only problem was that he couldn’t see anything below his feet, the platform below him must have been hidden to the eye even in sunlight.
The man decided to make a gamble.
As he moved, the growls below were becoming more and more prominent.
The man slowly descended downwards, then moved sideways when there was nothing below for him to step on.
“If only I could see something…”
Despite having felt an eternity pass by him, the man had only managed to move a total of three meters.
Not only that, but because he ran out of places to step on, he had to move downwards diagonally.
As he did so, he constantly looked around until his eyes eventually fell on something.
It was his sword.
The moonlight in the sky was just enough for him to find the sword reflecting the light off of itself.
Of course, he could only see a part of it.
But that definitely meant that there was more space where it lay.
Perhaps it was because he could see a sign of hope, but the man could feel a spur of energy spring up in his legs then and there.
The barks from below started to sound more like cheers to him now. Finally, the man managed to reach the hole in the cliff.
“Haha! Ahaha! Ahahahahahaha!”
Bursts of laughter escaped from the man’s mouth in an almost crazy fashion.
Although his vision was limited, he could at least tell that it was big enough to hold him.
He could see the sword’s rope stuck on the hole in the cliffside. Because the rope had managed to get tangled with a protrusion on the cliff, it had managed to swing itself into the hole.
The man moved with excitement, completely ignoring with the fact that he had been stupidly hanging above a hole the entire time. All he cared about was finding out what was inside
Anyway, at this point he didn’t even have the energy to stop and think.
The last of the man’s strength was sapped by his final jump inside.
He was safe.
He let out a long sigh in relief.
As he no longer had to endure the stress of hanging on the edge of a cliff fearing for his life, the opportunity for sleep was now hitting him hard.
The man looked down at his damaged sword with his eyes on the verge of closing.
Without it, he probably would have died somewhere along the way.
The man grinned, and held on to its handle. As a result, the rope tied to the sword grew taught, struggling to stay attached to the rock above.
With a single tug, the rope snapped with ease.
The man ended up falling backwards and deeper into the hole due to the recoil.
The man’s voice grew louder the further he fell.
He was confused once more. This confusion was due to his inability to feel anything below supporting him. Furthermore, he could also feel himself tumbling backwards from the moment his body had landed on the ground.
“Bark bark bark! Aooooooo!”
The coming of the sun was accompanied by the man’s shout along with the wolves’ hungry cries.
Cold water dripped onto the man’s lips, which caused them to tremble slightly in response.
Soon, a tongue managed to find its way out of that mouth.
Although it was just a few drops, it was more than enough to wake the man. After swallowing a few more drops of water, the man managed to gather the strength to stand up.
“Oh god, everything hurts. Fuck me.”
Despite how he was hurting way more than preferred, what truly mattered was his survival.
He couldn’t find any fractures or broken bones with his assessment, so he turned his attention to his surroundings.
He could remember rolling down into a hole, which meant that that the hole he had fell into was rather deep; however, there was a moon above him.
“A full moon?”
The man was dumbfounded.
The moon wasn’t even full the last he recalled, yet it had suddenly grown into a full one when he woke up?
That shouldn’t be possible.
The man shook his head and looked at the moon again, and his eyes got wider.
“There’s two? No, three, four…”
It was only after counting seven moons did the man realize that he wasn’t looking at a moon.
It was just that the balls stuck in the ceiling were as bright as the moon. As he stared at them, he realized that these were probably the “light pearls” he had only heard being mentioned in stories.
It was a mysterious encounter.