Authors Note: This chapter concludes the third arc and serves as an epilogue for it. I hope you enjoy it! The first arc of the story begins with the next chapter. I will rewrite this chapter once the book reaches this point.
The sound of the rustling leaves could be heard with every step we took. Our shadows glided by the trees, waking up the numerous small animals preparing to call it a day. The last rays of the sun were passing through the already dusky forest, making us hurry.
A few days had passed since we left behind the foggy parts of the wild woods. Wildwoods that have been infested since the forgotten ages by monsters. From the stories told to us by our seniors, this forest was inhabited by normal animals long ago. But, one day, disasters struck our world, forcing the initial dangerous animals to become a disaster. They gained new forms, powers, and superior intelligence that made humans abandon that place, as the animals started forming their own kingdoms. Humanity was not the only one physically unaffected by these changes. Some animals still maintained their initial forms, which made the human invent a new and unknown term for our world: Monsters.
Despite de violent clash that happened after that particular disaster, some new species still maintained friendly relationships with some scattered groups of humans. Being a turbulent, new era, where mana itself was starting to take form, an entirely new race was born under its influence, combining humans high adaptability and the monsters strong body: Demihumans.
Later on, with the kindness shown by some traveling demihumans, humans finally managed to get their hands on the magic initially granted to the monsters. Unfortunately, tragedy soon followed, as the humans started using their newly obtained weapons against their rightful owners. War once again engulfed the whole world. It lasted for hundreds of years until it naturally died down. But the hatred between monsters and humans was already profoundly engraved in these two bones. If two individuals from each race were to accidentally encounter one day in the future, no matter the environment or present situations, they would fight to death until only one would triumphantly walk away. But that wouldn be for long, as enemies will come for his life to take revenge for their fallen comrade. This infinitely vicious cycle forced the hands of the demihumans, making them escape to unknown lands or submit to a chosen race. This further lowered their standing, giving birth to the first slaves that this young world knew of. Then, people started to vulgarly address them as Beastkins to further signal their lowly birth.
These were not the only changes that occurred. Humanity had lost more than 3 quarters of its population, making them start building their kingdoms in plane regions, where they could better defend against the monsters occasional siege. Monsters also suffered, as many species had either lost their intelligence(Goblins), their strength (Slimes), or had directly perished(Spirits/ Espers).
That story remained being told by that drunk uncle in the pub, who was always blabbering to the kids and extorting them with a few drinks daily. Well, maybe me as well. Maybe…
We had safely cleared our rank-up quest. The only thing left was to return and report it at the adventurers guild. We had only about a day left until we arrived home.
Nothing could block our pass in this familiar land except for IT. Beo and I were hunting for dinner when we found a portal. A real one.
Finding one of these could be both a blessing and a misfortune. Entering could lead you to a place filled with treasures. Nevertheless, they were always in the company of danger: wild beasts, guardians, or even an entirely new race.
Few knew this, as the new era had just started, but most portals were a one-time trip. That meant you needed to worry more about finding your way home than what might be inside. That was also the reason behind these mysterious gates severe lack of information, despite half a year since their sudden appearance in this world.
It was almost night when we found it. We were experienced adventurers, so we immediately understood its immense value. We had no choice but to set up camp near the bluish magical vortex that appeared suspended in the air. The amount of magic was highly concentrated at that point, enough to send shivers up our spines from time to time. Neither of us was a mage, making our understanding of it faulty. But our senses made up more than enough for it. Considering our levels, it was a safe choice to report our discovery, but… greed was not easy to win over.
We had overlooked only one thing: the portals weren just a one-direction gate between different spaces. Anyone from the other side could come into our world without the slightest problem. But we were young and foolish, and such a thought never crossed our minds.
Since we stopped before finding an animal to cook, we had to use some of our provisions. Preparing for the camp was pretty easy. I had quite a lot of experience. The many nights I had spent in the forest during missions gave me many small and valuable insights. The days I spent penniless also helped a tiny bit.
The area was quickly secured, and the tent was installed in just a few minutes. We also threw a massive log at a spot just a small distance from the fire. It could be used as a defensive barricade in case of an ambush. The outskirts of the forest were relatively free from monsters, such as goblins or kobolds. Only bandits would show up from time to time. But we were already near the town, where many soldiers were lately present. That made most of them leave, making this area one of the safest in the kingdoms history.
After finishing all the chores, I volunteered for the first half of the night watch. It wasn without purpose. While I did trust Beo, I had my own secrets. Seeing her enter the tent made my trembling hands calm down a bit.
I sat down while looking at the fire. Well, not strictly at it, but at the flickering blue matter a few meters from the camp.
We would strike gold by selling the information to the knights. Ever since they appeared, you could receive a royal summon just by sending a paper with some valuable information for humanity. By doing so, I might be able to see my family after so long…
My face hardened as soon as I realized just what kind of thoughts I was having. I shook my head, my gaze landing on the gate to that unknown world again. The quest panel appeared, forcing me to face the reason behind my anxiety:
* Final Quest!
Enter the portal and return to Earth.
Reward: ??? *
That was my secret. While I was indeed born in this world, I knew something was out of place since that accident one year ago. I would sometimes relive someones else experiences. They were only fragments that mostly harmed me. Though, I could collect quite a lot of new information from them. And the thing that connected me to them was this System. It seemed like Gloomy Wolf made it just before burning his soul. Despite knowing that, I still couldn understand many of his choices. I was sad and felt pity for him.
As I slowly went through all the memories of my past lives, I realized that they all had something in common – Earth. I did not remember what my name was on Earth. I did not even remember what kind of life I had there. Heck, all I had was some hazy knowledge about it. Sometimes it helped me. Sometimes, however, it brought me more trouble. A bitter smile appeared on my face while stirring the fire.
Still, I felt a twinge in my chest whenever I looked toward the portal. Something was calling me. Something was urging me there. A strong desire to return to Earth. A sense of belonging I had never felt in any of my previous lives.
Even the System told me to go. And! The reward was unknown! Whatever came out of it would be of great benefit. This bonus only appeared when exploring dungeons.
Should I just go? It wasn like I had a strong attachment to my birthplace. After losing my position as the citys mayor, most people abandoned me. Some criminals even hunted me down, and it was only thanks to Rauls timely help that I escaped.
Even though I later discovered who he was, that didn explain why he sacrificed his life to save mine. He… was a friend to me, not just a helpful servant! After Rauls death, I no longer had any people I could trust.
I also hated my family for throwing me away after receiving a mediocre talent. It wasn even my fault. It should be Gods fault for giving me something so common! Why did I have to be born as a noble?!
* Skill Cool-headed (Lv2) activating.
Decreasing intensity of emotions. *
Sigh! Not again… Because of this skill, I couldn even get angry for too long.
Resuming. Except for the capital, I only went shopping in a few villages. I didn travel that much since I didn have the necessary money. I spent the rest of my time adventuring and camping with Beo in the Forest of Eternal Night.
Right, Beo! I was such a fool! I had Beo.
She was a good girl. Despite being one of those hidden demihumans, she always gave me company. Helping me whenever I needed it, being my training partner, or even fighting with Raul every time his training went out of control. Sometimes, I really wanted to stroke those fluffy ears after the intense sword practice. I had once asked her why did she follow me. It wasn like she had any motive to hang out with a guy like me. All that she said was that I smelled like a wolf. Pardon me??
A chuckle escaped my lips while recalling those happy days. Yet, my heart was straining, recalling Gloomy Wolfs memories. The most recent memories I had retrieved from the System. I was troubled. Did I… love Beo? Maybe. I wasn sure about it.
But, if that was true, would I be able to love Beo for over a thousand years just like him? The pain and regret in his life were causing me even more headaches. I grabbed my hair while musing over my options.
Could Beo be playing games with me, just to leave me someday? She could find a better guy than me anytime. She had all the necessary qualities: looks, strength, money, and rank. In that case, wasn Earth a better choice? I wouldn have to deal with another painful separation, like what had happened with Raul.
”Open status, ” I whispered.
HP: 230/230 MP: 300/300
STRENGTH: 20 AGILITY: 27
STAMINA: 18 ENDURANCE: 13
INTELLIGENCE: 20 WILLPOWER: 22
Character Progress: ORIGIN???-15%; ???- 25%; Gloomy Wolf- 32%.
Talent: Danger Sense (Lv2)
Skill Points: 3.
Unique Skills: None.
Active Skills: Map (LV2); BERSERK(LV1); Slash(LV3); Sprint (LV2).
Passive Skills: Learning languages (LV1); Geographic Knowledge (LV1).
Cool-headed (LV2); Pain tolerance (LV2); Hunger tolerance (LV0); Fear tolerance (LV1).
Swordsmanship (LV5); Dagger Mastery (LV2).
Buffs: Pain-killer (medium).
Debuff: Fear (low).
Fear? Since when did I have this debuff? Weren my skills supposed to negate any type of minor ailments?
I looked bewildered at my shaking hand. I could not understand. Why? Why was I feeling fear?
I had my inventory bag with me. Recovery potions checked. Food. Clothes. Weapons. All checked. I had prepared enough luggage for the trip to Earth. And by raising my level, my physical abilities could be considered top-notch on a planet like Earth. So for what reason was I scared?
Noticing that the fire was about to go out, I stood up to add another branch to it. Quite some time had passed while I was lost in my thoughts.
* Skill Sense Danger(Lv2) activating.
Low-level threats detected. *
My head immediately snapped towards the tent. Then, there was a movement from within it. Beo?
She came out while staring at me. She looked worried for some reason.
”Where are you going, Al(Alde)? ” her words contained a small amount of bloodlust, making me sure of the cause of my skill suddenly activating.
She didn say anything last night. It was probably to give me time to put my thoughts in order. After all, she noticed that I wasn myself after finding the portal.
Trying to keep my voice from shaking, I declared:
”Im going home. ”
She looked bewildered for a while. Probably not believing that I was worried over such a simple matter. But as soon as she followed the direction I was looking towards, she nearly choked on her following words.
”You?? HOME??? There? ” Beo asked while pointing over the fire.
While lowering my head, I replied to her in a softer voice.
”Right. Im going home. ”
”When are we leaving? ”
”Wait, Beo! You can go with me! ” I exclaimed.
”Why? ” Beo was slightly confused by my remark.
”Well, thats because… ” I stammered.
How could I explain to her that there are only humans on Earth?
”You see… since there is no war there, people will not see us in a good light. But Earth is a peaceful world, with no dangerous creatures. We don have an identity there. We are adventurers. We are warriors. We win our food by fighting monsters.
Moreover, the kingdoms in that world have tight control over their citizens. They will know as soon as we try to blend in. They might even capture us, which won end well for either part. ”I exhaled.
After finishing my lengthy explanation, I couldn even look at Beos face. Deep inside me, I knew that I was abandoning her. But I immediately shook that horrible feeling off.
A small laugh escaped her lips as she wondered:
”Isn that the same as when we first met? ”
”No-o. Thats quite different. In that case, I would order the soldiers to release you. ”
”I see. Then whats the problem? ”
Were you still asking me after everything I had told you, Beo?
”NO MEANS NO! You can go with me. Earth is too dangerous for you. ”
I exclaimed while leaving on the ground the bag full of gold coins I had on me.
”Here, this is my share of our rewards. ”
I stood up again and turned away from the tent. Together, we had completed quite a few requests and had split the earnings in half. Beos savings should double without any problem. The money would last her for a while until she received new requests.
Taking a last glance at her, I told her:
”With this, I will be leaving. ”
I wasn clear about the reason I looked at her. Yet, seeing her gaze fixed on me made my heart thump again.
”Im sorry, Beo! ”
I apologized to her and rushed to the portal.
Her eyes widened as soon as she heard me. She tried to add something, but I could no longer listen to her. I was already passing through the fabric of the portal. While turning around my head, I saw her dashing towards me. She soon stopped as if something was blocking her way. Then, the portal broke into a beautiful cascade of light particles.
That was fine. It was better this way. I didn think that she would follow after me. It was good that she couldn come with me. While traveling through space, I kept repeating those thoughts in my mind.
I was assaulted by dizziness and even lost my sense of direction. It was probably the result of my high Willpower that I managed to stay awake in the space rift long enough to hear the prompt from the System:
* Final Quest Updated: Return to Earth.
Reward: System Authority x1 (NEW).
Final Quest Completed.
Will you use the reward? Yes/No. *
I clicked. ”Yes. ”
* Final Quest reward used, obtained System Authority x1.
Will you delete the System? Yes/No. *
It was as if my heart had frozen. Even those nauseating feelings from earlier were erased. Deleting the System?! Out of all the things I was hoping to come out, this was the last one.
Maybe…maybe that was a good decision. It was the only way for me to have an everyday life on Earth. There was no magic or wars there. A peaceful world. I could finally take a break. I wouldn have to take in any more weird memories.
Tears started streaming down my face before long. I was lost in my thoughts while falling through the tunnel, making me unaware that the trip was ending.
After a long time, I made my decision. A blinding light erupted as my finger was about to touch the screen. A portal had formed below me. I lost my vision as I passed through it.
I had finally made it to Earth. But Earth had long since changed.
END OF ARC 3 – Gloomy Wolf
NEXT ARC: A CHANGED EARTH! IS IT THE OLD ONE OR A DIFFERENT ONE???
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