Howl of Time

5. A Bard\'s Tale

The sounds of buzzing once again filled our ears. All of us paled at what was coming towards us. Flies, a dozen of them, moving closer and closer. As a doom approached, there was no time to grieve. ”No more back talk. You kids need to go. Theres no way you can fight all of those by yourselves. Let us elders hold the line while you get to safety. ” the old man put his hand on Donovans shoulder as he spoke. ”B-b-but… ” Donovan wanted to save them. He didnt want to just abandon people just because things got hard. But this… was not something he and any of us could face on our own.

”Donovan. We have to go… ” There was no time to try and convince him. I grabbed his arm and pulled him in the direction of Sector 3. Since Donovan had lost his will I could only have everyone press forward. ”…Thank you… ” I left those final words as we began to run. Only looking back to see the elder couple bravely marching towards death.

We didnt stop. We ran for a half hour before finally reaching the warehouses we had seen from a distance and there was no signs of the people that run ahead of us. ”Where should we go from here…? ” Ethan asked, but he did not ask Donovan but instead asked me. I looked at everyones weary faces. The sun was still high in the sky but we needed a rest before we could go further. ”I think for now we scout out these warehouses and make camp. ” Everyone nodded in agreement.

We found a decent warehouse that was not locked and closed the door tight behind us. Myra started a fire and began warming up some food. Cynthia and Ethan sat down listlessly, and Donovan sat in a corner hugging his knees. I wasnt sure why he felt so compelled to save everyone considering how much danger he, himself, was in.

The meal was simple, canned beans and corn. Well to call it a meal might be a stretch. Myra came up to me and wanted to talk to me about something. ”Jason… Donovan is in no state to lead us. We have lost the others and we dont even know where we should be going. What are your thoughts. ” I thought for a moment before replying. ”For now, we should move further into the city. We dont know what we will find but there must be other people. We can find a larger group to take shelter with and go from there. ” She looked pensive for a moment before asking, ”And if theres more monsters in the city…? ” I bit my lip and said, ”Then we will deal with it when the time comes. Before we head out of this area, lets look for weapons we can use. What we have is shabby and we struggled to kill one of those things. And… ” I paused thinking of the best way to say this. ”…and everyone needs to fight as well. We cant have anyone with us who wont participate in battle.

She shuddered but then she appeared to have her determination. ”O-okay, I will fight! ” I patted her shoulder and nodded with a smile and she seemed to have brightened up.

We managed to sleep that night. We were simply to exhausted not to. Once everyone was awake I began a team meeting and discussed our plans before we left. Cynthia was apposed to having to fight at first but relented when she remembered what we just went through. We found several objects that we could use as weapons, such as rebar stakes, pipe wrenches, and other metal instruments.

We practice swinging them briefly and I discussed aiming for weak points. To be honest I only had game knowledge to go off of and no real combat experience except for when I fought the fly. Recalling that, I was too frantic at the time but when I killed that fly I felt something. Sort of like a vague feeling of energy seeping into me. It wasnt much, but I think we can grow stronger by killing those monsters.

It would be nice if we had something like a system that would display experience points like what Ive read about in webnovels but this is reality and Im not completely sure whether we really will grow stronger.

Donovan was downcast since we left the elders behind. He sort of resembled a zombie with his sunken eyes and pale complexion. He still moved though and after we left the warehouse and walked along the road he became more alert.

We moved quietly, scanning each street as we moved further into the city. Occasionally we would see bloodstains and pieces of human flesh here and there. By then we had become numb to it. Cynthia would sometimes sob when she saw something but would remain quiet otherwise.

It didnt take long for our next monster encounter. While moving under an overpass, we found ourselves face to face with a mutated dog. This time… We decided to fight. Our movements were haphazard but we tried to coordinate with eachother the best we could. In the end I ended up getting the killing blow again when I smashed a pipe wrench against the dogs skull.

Just like before I felt something creeping into me. We pressed forward and encountered more beasts and each of us managed to kill a few of them. We had been moving for hours and still had not seen any other living people. Until…

We heard a scream. As we passed by a catholic church, we heard a woman yelling for help. Before I could say anything Donovan ran through the doors of the church and we followed behind. Inside we found an old priest and and young nun fighting back a group of rats. The priest swung a large candlestick holder and hold them back while the nun was trembling holding a knife.

There was five rats, each snarling and snapping at their prey which was backed into a corner. One of the rats caught the priest by surprise and clamped down on his jugular. The nun screamed as the priest flailed desperately, blood gushing out from his neck. Donovan and I moved quickly and began crushing the rats.

We managed to kill the group of rats but only was able to save the nun. She had various wounds but none were life threatening. ”T-Thank y-you ” she said as she slumped onto the floor. ”Dear God, Markus… ” She began praying over the fallen priest, while tears streamed down her face.

We gave her some time before we talked to her. ”Miss? My name is Donovan, this is Jason, Myra, Cyntha and Ethan. Can you tell us your name? ” The nun stood up and faced us. ”Marie… My name is Marie. ” Marie looked to be around 25, with blonde hair and a slender figure. The habit she wore was stained with dried blood and was torn is several places.

I asked her, ”Miss Marie, have you by chance seen any other people or maybe heard of a place where survivors are gathering? ” She didnt immediately answer but after a few moments, ”At first there was people who came to our church looking for answers. But those of them that came either left after realizing we didnt know either or… they died. ” She said that last part quietly and with a feeling of heavy emotion.

But she wasn finished with her story. ”…There was another group that came by a few days ago. One of my sister nuns greeted them outside but… They attacked her and dragged her away by her hair. Markus tried to stop them but they knocked him unconscious… while all I could do was hide… ”

She began to cry, lamenting it all. ”Why?… Why has god forsaken us? Why…? ” None of us could answer her question but we looked at eachother with grim faces. We had been too focused on surviving the beasts that we didnt even think about it… Humanity has always had monsters… Theres no doubt that nun that got dragged off is facing a different kind of hell that we are.

Myra and Cynthia walked over and began comforting Marie. Donovan, Ethan and I walked over to a corner to talk. ”Guys… W-what now? ” Ethan trembled. He had become much braver since we started killing the monsters but at his core he was still a timid guy. Donovan looked at me probing me for a response. *sigh* I couldnt help but sigh before speaking. ”If Marie was able to see what direction that group had left in, then maybe we travel in the opposite direction and hope to meet better people… Honestly no matter where we go, we run the chance of running into those types of people. ” I didnt want to give them any false hope so I just came out and said it.

They already knew that, but hearing it out loud darkened thier faces. I wanted to tell them that we will be alright, that we will definitely find a place thats safe but… I really didnt think so. But I continued, ”The best option we have would be to get stronger. Im sure youve noticed… when we kill monsters we seem to get some kind of energy from them. Our bodies are changing and its only been a little more than a day. I feel like my attacks carry more weight than they did yesterday. ” They nodded because they seem to have noticed it too.

”For now, lets make camp here and discuss with the girls about where will go from here. ” I said calmly. ”You
e right… our options are limited, but we should decide as a group. ” Donovan replied. We walked back over to the girls and Marie had already calmed down, though she looked haggard.

We talked everything over and decided to use the church as our base for now. We would go out and hunt monsters during the day and then seal ourselves in the church at dusk till dawn.

We moved the priests body, wrapped in linen to a broom closet and cleaned up the rat corpses. While doing so Ethen found something, ”Guys! Look! ” In his hand he held a crystal orb the size just bigger than a marble. It seemed to shimmer under the rays of the setting sun that shined through the stained glass of the church.

I held out my hand and he handed it over to me to look at. While observing it, I felt something stir within me. I cant explain it, but it felt like my instincts were telling me something. I brought the orb to my mouth and then swallowed it. ”J-Jason! ” Ethan who was surprised by my action began to panic.

At first, nothing seemed to happen, but it didnt take long… pain coursed through my body. My muscles tightened as if I was being electrocuted. My eyes bulged and my veins were hot. They say once pain reaches a certain threshold, the human body will shut down, but I wasnt that fortunate. I gasped with hot breaths while Myra and Donovan rushed over to me. ”Ethan, what happened?! ” Myra yelled. ”H-He swallowed it… ” ”Huh?! swallowed what?! ”

No one knew what to do to save me. Blue veins glowed over my body, but internally the pain had reached its apex and was beginning to fade. My body calmed and my mind became tranquil. (…This?…This is euphoric!) After the pain had gone a pleasure stuck my body like I had never felt before. An instinctual understanding took root in my mind.

Power. It felt like pure power was coursing through my veins and I knew how to control it the same way I could control my arms or my legs. It wasnt like I suddenly became Superman, but I felt like I could suddenly do more than I could before.

Once the feeling had died down I sat up. Everyone looked at me with worried gazes. ”Its okay, everyone. I think I just Leveled Up! ”

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