Seeing the large grizzly, Ryu’s initial reaction was bringing up the ‘Log Off’ menu, which he manifested via mental will. But in that microsecond that the game window was opening, the furry beast charged. And at that moment, Ryu looked down in fear for the slightest second, avoiding eye contact with the creature that would probably be the cause of his demise.
He looked back up after that brief moment and all that he could see now in his plane of sight was a massive, wide open, and drooling grizzly bear mouth.
The bear’s jaws were no less than two feet from his face.
In a panic, and in reaction, Ryu drew for his sword. Of course, the bear was too close already, so it was useless. But just as he placed his hand on the grip of his sword—SWOOSH! The bear’s neck jolted and the large grizzly tumbled, tackling into him.
Ryu’s consciousness slowly drifted. His vision became more and more blurred until finally, he blacked out.
When Ryu woke up there was a large open fire burning several feet from him. Over the flame was a very large four-legged creature that had been skinned, now broiled and charred from cooking over the fire.
Ryu got up, dizzy and his head hurting, but he collapsed back down.
“Careful,” said a deep voice. “You were knocked out.”
A man, middle-aged, was sitting on a log by the fire. His attire was simple: leather pants and no shirt other than an open leather vest. He was tall, several inches taller than Guy maybe, and had very muscular features. He had wavy brown hair that flowed to his shoulders and a stubble than ran across his jaw.
Ryu forced himself back up, placing his right palm over the throbbing of his head. He bent down and grabbed his satchel lying down next to him and trudged over to the fire. He sat down on a log seat. As he did so, flashbacks of the bear attack came rushing back to his head.
“Where am I?” a dizzy Ryu said, inhaling and exhaling deeply.
“You’re safe,” the man said. “That’s all you need to know.”
The man looked at the necklace around dangling over Ryu’s shirt.
“I see that you’re wearing a Crystal of Understanding,” he said. “You mustn’t be from around here then. You don’t look like the type of person who adventures out of the city. You should be more careful. These woods aren’t safe for people like you.”
Ryu, coming out of his daze, looked at the brown crystal hanging around his neck.
Crystal of Understanding?
“Those crystals aren’t cheap,” said the man. “You’d better keep it hidden, or else someone might just snatch it from you.”
Ryu looked at the necklace with a blank expression, reminding himself of what value it truly held to him. He then remembered Mirvena’s face. Then he remembered Roland’s. And then he remembered why he was here. He asked the mysterious man, “Excuse me, but do you know someone by the name of Bors?
The man said no word at first, looking straight into the fire. “You’re looking at him,” he then said.
Ryu took a deep breath and shook off the remaining of his head pain. “Well, I was told to you for my training.”
Ryu nodded. “I wish to hunt monsters.”
Bors laughed. “Ha! I can already see through those clothes of yours. You’re as thin as a cutting board. You probably couldn’t even kill a deer from this forest.”
“I was advised to come to you specifically,” Ryu said. “I trust the elder who gave me these instructions.”
Bors raised his voice. “What elder?”
“Roland,” Ryu said. “He’s from a town called Durn not too far from here.”
Ryu took out the pin he received from Roland and extended his palm out.
“Tch. That old man. Always giving me trouble,” Bors sneered. He became silent, only looking straight at the fire. Then he stood up and took out a knife and began cutting off meat from the cooked animal. In a calm and serious voice, he said “Come. Eat.” He handed Ryu a skewer of steaming hot meat.
Ryu said nothing and did as he was told.
The sizzling meat burned Ryu’s tongue, but he bared with the pain and chewed on it, hoping to remain respectful. It was terribly unseasoned, though. More than that, it was extremely tough.
“Get used to it,” Bors said, commenting on the food. “When you live out here, you make do with what you get.”
Ryu didn’t respond right away and only kept eating. But then he stopped, and said, “You killed it, didn’t you? The bear I mean.”
And we’re probably eating it right now…
“I did,” Bors said.
“How?” Ryu asked.
Bors took something from his back pocket and showed it to Ryu. It was a small, curved knife, probably no smaller than a pocket knife.
It’s so small. How did he manage to kill that bear? I don’t remember what happened, but I’m certain it died instantly.
Bors then threw the knife at one of the gigantic trees across the small camp. When it hit, it shattered the bark and pierced right through, although Ryu didn’t know to what extent.
This man… He’s strong. Maybe equivalent to a Lvl. 60 Dream World Warrior in terms of strength.
With a stern look, Ryu asked, “Could you please teach me how to do that?”
Bors didn’t answer; he continued chomping away but eventually spoke. “I saw other tracks. You didn’t come alone, did you?”
“I was traveling with a party,” Ryu responded.
“Where are they? I scouted the area and didn’t see anyone,” Bors said.
“They had things to do, so they returned home. I don’t know when they’ll be back.”
“So they left you? You’re lucky I was in the area,” Bors said, tearing off a chunk of meat from the bone with his mouth. “Better hope your friends are safe. This forest becomes more dangerous after sunset. The road to Durn isn’t safe, either.”
Ryu lowered his head and looked down at the ground. He already knew they were safe.
He saw his necklace dangling and stretched it out between his index finger and thumb, pulling it to Bors. “You called this a Crystal of Understanding? Just what is it?”
“That? It’s a magic crystal that lets you fully communicate with others regardless of what language you speak. It’s quite a handy tool,” Bors said. “However, it has its limits, as its power does not encompass all the languages of Albamania.”
Ryu then took out his black journal from the satchel.
Upon seeing it, Bors was a little stunned. “You even have one of those with you? You’re really lucky you didn’t get robbed.”
“You know what this is, too?” asked Ryu.
Bors nodded. “Aye. It’s a Scribe Tome. It automatically records things for whoever owns it. Think of it as a journal, or even an encyclopedia, that writes itself. I’m assuming Roland gave that to you, as well?”
Bors finished his slab of meat, slurping and licking his lips. Then he stood up and poured a bucket of water over the fire. He began walking away, into the forest.
“Follow me,” Bors said.
“What about the rest of the bear?” Ryu said.
Bors, looking into the forest around him, turned his head right, then left. “I’m sure others will come and claim it.” He smirked. “Now, come. You’ve come to train, haven’t you?”
Bors walked into the darkness. Ryu stood up and followed the crude man.