Chapter 1: Hunted and hunters in the forest

So here is chapter one……

 

Yeah, not much to say besides the MC is understandably messed up from what he went through and as such he has developed some strange world views and mentalities towards things……. Oh and that he is still really young, how young you’ll find out in a later chapter (Or you could do the math yourself….). Since the MC is so young but went through so much and has his dreams he is a strange mix of mature and immature for his age, technically capable of things that should be above what someone his age should be able to handle but emotionally very stunted and immature…… that will become more clear as the story progresses, but i figured i would give you all some far warning…..

 

anyway i’ll edit this out sometime later….  it’s all nice and readables now………….

 

Here be the chapter…

ENJOY!!!!!!




 


Nox


 

All my life I had strange dreams. In those dreams I was always someone else, one of a few different people. My dreams taught me all sorts of things early on like how to count or make certain things, but most of the time my dreams were wrong or what they showed me was impossible for me to do. My father said that my dreams were special and I shouldn’t tell anyone about them, he said that about a lot of things when I was little.

 

I had always healed really fast, faster than I was supposed to. I healed so fast it scared Mother when she found out about it, Father told me that I shouldn’t talk about that too.

 

Sometimes crystals would just form around me, that scared Mother too but the other kids in the village thought it was really cool. Father always took the crystals away whenever they formed, and told me I should always bring them to him whenever they appeared. He also told me not to tell anyone else about that either.

 

Father was really fond of telling me to not talk to people about all sorts of things, it was something he constantly reminded me of almost every day and it wasn’t until later that I understood why.

 

When the vespians came and started killing people and taking others away, father tried to lead mother and I away. When they caught up to us Father fought them with his serpent with icy scales and the giant spiky bear that he kept in the crystals in his sword, they were strong something I knew well from watching them play with me by having mock fights with each other while I watched. Father and his monsters fought hard and they killed many vespians before the spiky bear was brought down, then the snake, and finally Father himself.

 

I remember their being so much blood, there was blood everywhere and father seemed to disappear when one of the vespians waved her hands at him. I remember mother hugged me to her chest trying to block my view as I cried and we were surrounded by the vespians. That had been the first time I had ever seen anyone die. That was the day my life changed forever.

 

After that mother and I were taken somewhere on a cart with cloth bags over our heads, and we stayed like that for days. When the bags finally came off we were with some of the other villagers trapped in cages, and everyone was terrified.

 

Over the next few weeks I learned what slavery was, what torture was, and what it looked like to lose all hope. I learned that every day from new dreams, the vespians, and the villagers I grew up with all acting as my teachers. No matter how much they hurt me though, I would always heal before I regained consciousness and like mother told me I didn’t listen to anything they told me to do.

 

That was when mother and I were sent to someone new to personally train us, the best in the hive everyone kept saying. That was when I first met Rasst.

 

Rasst taught me that what I had learned in the weeks before was nothing, absolutely nothing compared to real “training”. She got me to do everything that she wanted by using my mother against me, she knew just what to do to force me to listen to her and obey. Then she changed mother into someone I didn’t recognize anymore, changed her into something less than a person.

 

Rasst farmed me for the crystals I made.

 

Rasst took away my mother.

 

Rasst hurt me.

 

Rasst starved me.

 

Rasst raped me.

 

Rasst made me sick.

 

Rasst drugged me.

 

Rasst poisoned me.

 

Rasst had others make me think things that weren’t my thoughts.

 

Rasst kept me awake for days on end.

 

Rasst marked my body repeatedly, only to mark me again when I healed.

 

Rasst taught me countless things.

 

Rasst turned me cruel and robbed me of my innocence in every sense of the word.

 

Rasst couldn’t break me, not even when she spent an entire month keeping me in a constant state of pain and near-death.

 

Rasst could never break me, it was the one thing I would never let happen. Rasst had taken everything else from me, controlled me in every other way. I REFUSED to give in to her like she wanted, to let her take what little left that was still mine, so played along. I acted like she broke me, like I was her obedient little slave.

 

Then one day when she had mother watch as she rode on top of me while cutting into my ears with one of her favorite knives, I stabbed her through her left eye with one of the daggers she had stabbed into me before she mounted me. I took mother by the hand and just left, I said that we were told to meet Rasst outside for further training and showed any vespian who stopped me a note I wrote in Rasst’s handwriting. Some were suspicious, but most let me by and some even sent me in the right direction when I was going the wrong way. Those that didn’t believe me and tried to stop me died and had their bodies hidden, after all Rasst had many different tools all of which she kept very sharp and very well maintained. It was easy to hide a few of the smaller ones from sight until I needed them.

 

When mother and I were outside the hive, I just ran. I ran and ran and ran until mother stopped me and would go no further. I tried to pull her with me, to drag her along if necessary. She attacked me, screamed at me, ripped off one of my ears and lots of my hair, and broke one of my arms before I stopped. I realized that the person that I was trying so hard to take with me wasn’t my mother Rekona, but Rasst’s bitch slave Rek. My mother had died long ago, when I was still young enough to not understand all the things my dreams and Rasst showed me.

 

I let her go and kept running, I never looked back. I did things that I instinctually knew would through off any pursuers and I kept running until I got to a forest. I remembered how one of the people I was in my dreams was a hunter and decided that this place would be my home from now on. I felt confident that I could survive here, that I could learn to hunt and forage for my food as well as make some sort of shelter for myself.

 

I spent many months in this forest, months I spent coming to terms with who I was and who I had been. I had once been Noxaltik Lornfang, the innocent and beloved son of the village chief. Noxaltik had been weak, trusting, naïve, and had everything that mattered to him striped away. Noxaltik had died in the depths of a vespian hive, and in his place Nox was born. Nox was cruel, clever, strong, and had nothing to lose. Nox was unbreakable even when faced with the best slave trainer and torturer in a vespian hive. Nox was not a slave to anyone.

 

I am not Noxaltic, I am Nox…..

 


 

I was moving again, holding close to my pet and trying to throw off the thing that had been hunting me for the last few months of my life. No matter how far I went, where I hid, or how well I covered up my tracks and masked my scent it always ended up finding me eventually. The only good thing is that I had picked up on its unique scent the first time it came close to me in time for me to avoid it, and since then I have been forced to quickly and stealthily relocate every month or so when it came too close to tracking me down.

 

I had only seen a glimpse of the monster once, it was a big cat with hard looking almost reflective fur and large jaws with four big, sharp, elongated fangs. Its scent was strangely metallic and it seemed way more powerful than the other monsters in my part of the forest, it was like something that should only be in the deeper parts where the really dangerous things lived and hunted.

 

I had been doing my absolute best to avoid meeting it since my instincts were telling me that this monster could easily kill me before I even had the chance to heal from any wounds it gave me, it was just that strong. It was like being stalked by death, but while I might not be as strong as it is I don’t have to be. This is MY part of the forest, I know how to move through it and where I can go to hide in it. As long as I’m in this part of the forest I would be able to stay ahead of this monster.

 

At least I will until it learns this part of the forest as well as I do, learns all my tricks, or just catches me unaware…

 

I looked up at the tree that I had been running to, it was a bolt hole of mine that I made for just occasions like this. It was also the third to last one I had left and since this monster didn’t just move on to easier prey like it normally should, it was one of the last safe places I had left that it didn’t know about. And it did know about the others I had used, it remembered where each of them were and would go there immediately if I spent even more than a few hours at one of the ones it had been to.

 

I’m being cornered, and worse yet I’m running out of hunting ground… Fairly soon I’ll run out of food since I can’t go out to get more without risking running into that monster, and even if I just hole up it will eventually just find me… The only option left is to get to it before it gets to me…

 

I let my round pet drop to the ground as I began searching for the covered opening to the den I dug here a month ago. It found it before I could, and I patted its smooth soft body in thanks and praise.

 

“Good job Del, good slime.” (Nox)

 

It rippled in the way that made it seem happy and made the strange squishing sucking noise it always did when I petted it. Picking up my pet and carefully lifting the covering to my newest home I dropped down into the den I had made for myself.

 

There had been someone else here, the scents here were too different from when I had last left it and there was one scent that stuck out most of all. A scent that was both foul and familiar to me.

 

Goblins… Damn… If I leave now I might be able to make it to the next bolt hole before anything notices I was ever even here, but then with my scent leading here that monster will know about this place as well… I don’t have enough time or safe forest area left to make another bolt hole to get away from this thing, and if I try exploring a new part of the forest while being hunted like this… Damn it! Why did stupid goblins have to take my den!?!?

 

Small ugly humanoids that came in all sorts of colors depending on their subspecies I had grown very accustomed to dealing with goblins. Goblins weren’t terribly strong individually and most types of goblins were so dumb they would eat the same poisoned berries that killed the last six goblins that tried to right in front of them. The threat was that wherever there was one goblin there was always more, always. They mobbed things beating them with whatever they can get their hands on until said thing was dead and they could eat it, and most types of goblins were too stupid to run away from a fight when they had already joined in. That was what made them dangerous, the fact that they overwhelmed you with sheer numbers.

 

Maybe this isn’t so bad, maybe I can use this… The goblins can serve as bait or maybe they can distract the monster hunting me long enough for me to do something… But for that to work…

 

I carefully climbed out of the den making sure to cover up any obvious signs of my presence and replacing the camouflaged covering. Then I held my pet up to the top back half of my head.

 

“Del, grip.” (Nox)

 

Feeling the slime hold onto the back of my head securely, I began to climb the tree. This was a trick I taught Del because slimes were soft and springy, this way it could hold on to me and also protect my head if I were to fall. I learned long ago that it took far longer for serious head wounds to heal, even given my unnatural healing rate. I also didn’t want to test if I could heal from a shattered skull and destroyed brain, I didn’t think I could. Things tended to die immediately when things damaged their brain, Rasst had proved that to me with multiple examples repeatedly in order to scare me into obeying her.

 

As I settled onto a branch sturdy enough to hold my weight and high enough that it was above where most things would bother looking I prepared myself to wait. If there were too many goblins then I would have to get very creative about how I was going to deal with them, but if there were less than ten I should be able to deal with them fairly easily.

 

I felt my nails dig into the bark of the branch I was perched on in anticipation of what was to come, I really did enjoy hunting. No, I guess it was more accurate to say I loved it, it was something pure where there was only predator and prey. Hunter and hunted. The strong and the weak. You always had to be careful regardless of which you thought you were because both were dangerous in their own ways and the two roles could shift at any time and you could easily come out on the losing end of that shift, something I was about to prove to the thing that had been hunting me all this time.

 

It was time for the prey stop running and show that it was just as much of a predator as this thing was, maybe even a better one…..

 


 

It took hours of waiting before the goblins returned.  It was a fairly small group, but they had brought captives. I counted twelve green goblins, they wouldn’t be much of a problem as they tended to be the dumbest type of goblins in general, but the real problem was they had five grey goblin captives tied up with vines in the center of their group. I couldn’t tell why they had the grey goblins, maybe as slaves or maybe as food it was impossible to tell with green goblins, but they would be a problem. Grey goblins were fairly rare and weak, but they were also far smarter than other goblin types and could make and use tools as well as speak some broken common instead of the growling tongue other goblins used.

 

The greys were more than smart enough to not let me bait them into fighting an obviously dangerous predator, and they would probably notice something troublesome while I set things up during the time I had left before that monster finally tracked me down here. They would have to go, but unfortunately no matter how dumb green goblins were they would notice if arrows started killing off the greys and they’d either leave or try searching for me.

 

I watched as some of the greens went into my bolt hole and the others stayed outside to guard the greys and keep them from running away. The guarding green goblins had some crude wooden and stone weapons they probably took from the greys when they captured them, and the greys looked worn down and defeated. There had probably been a green goblin raid on their home and since greys only lived in small groups and greens usually had groups ranging from ten to a fifty without a chieftain, the greens probably just overwhelmed the greys with numbers.

 

Maybe the greens lost a lot of their numbers in the fight… That would sort of explain why they brought back a few captives instead of just killing and eating them, they might be keeping them for breeding…

 

That was the problem with goblins, they were so ugly it was usually impossible to tell males from females even for other goblins, and usually to a goblin that really didn’t matter since they would try to mate with almost anything. Greys were better about that sort of thing, looked slightly better, and you could usually tell what gender they were from how they were dressed if not their features. Either way I doubted that would matter for this group soon, I saw three grey males and two grey females and I expected that they all would be forced to mate with all of the greens at some point.

 

It was also clear that the greys understood that their fate was bleak, either being kept as a breeding tool or being eaten perhaps even both. It was clear that they had all resigned themselves to a fate like that and that they had given up on even attempting to fight it, but maybe that could change…

 

I needed the greys to be gone, and I’m sure that the greys would be happy to be far away from here themselves. In the end I only really needed a few goblins as bait, and a few dumb greens would serve that purpose perfectly if there were no greys here to raise any alarms. I decided that there was a simple solution to my problem, I could free the greys and let them escape then just use the remaining greens as my bait for the monster hunting me. The greens probably weren’t even smart enough to consider moving somewhere new if the guards and greys suddenly disappeared, they would just happily stay in that den and only venture out for food. Why would they ever want to leave a nice new den like this one when they had just found it recently after all, they hadn’t even had the chance to coat it in their own filth yet.

 

I’ll wait until it’s night, then I can start… They’ll probably have less guards with the greys then and it’ll be harder for them to see me. Plus if the rest are sleeping inside the den they probably won’t even wake up let alone notice what’s happening or try to help… 

 

As I decided this I adjusted my position so that I could lean against the trunk of the tree and be more comfortable, it would be a few hours until sunset and I didn’t want to risk leaving my hiding place until the greys were gone or it was too dark to see me. I took the simple wooden bow I had made for this week from its place at my back, taking care to keep hold of its wooden body and not the giant spider silk string so I didn’t accidentally drop it. I would need to make a new one soon since this one was beginning to wear down and the string was beginning to get too loose, but it should last me a few more shots. I also rechecked the number of arrows I had by looking at the make shift belt I had made to tie them to, I would need to make more soon these eight wouldn’t last me long and I doubted I would be able to kill whatever was hunting me in only a few shots.

 

With one hand having a firm grip on my bow, I used the other to reach for Del on my head. It had been holding on tightly up there for a while now and it was starting to really hurt to have my sensitive ears pressed down by it for so long. I spoke softly so that I didn’t draw undue attention to my position, I doubted that the goblins would hear if I spoke at my normal volume but I felt it was best not to test fate like that in this case.

 

“Del, Release.” (Nox)

 

As my pet released its grip on my head and moved to hold on to my offered hand, I felt my ears immediately pop back up in relief. I really didn’t like things to touch my ears, they were really sensitive and that had led to plenty of bad memories involving cutting, stabbing, biting, and burning them from my time in the vespian hive with Rasst.

 

As I looked at the strange light blue creature now resting in my lap as I petted it, I thought back to when I had first arrived in the forest as well as how I first meet Del and it became my pet while I waited.

 


 

It had been back when I was still new to the forest and I didn’t know my way around or what I was really doing. I had stumbled across a stream and when I went to drink from it I noticed that there were these strange round monsters that were almost transparent and had a sort of rock thing floating inside them. I recognized them as slimes, a monster that I had seen numerous times in my dreams and my father had spoken of a few times when I was young.

 

They were so strange, like balls of semi-solid liquid. One tried to attack me, at least I think that’s what it was trying to do when it lunged at me, and I avoided it by diving into the stream. From my place in the stream I watched the strange bluish creatures, and they seemed to watch me as well though that was only a feeling I got since they had no eyes. Sitting in the thigh high water I soon discovered I was perfectly safe, the slimes seemed to avoid the water doing their best to not even get near it. After a while some of the slimes began to leave, and soon enough there were only two left.

 

I got out of the water and confronted the larger one, the one that was as tall as my waist and just as wide around. When I touched it, it sucked in my hand and tried to do something that made my skin tingle a bit. The inside of the slime was even stranger than it’s outside as it was liquid around my hand but the same semi-solid it was on its surface everywhere else, wherever I moved my hand the liquid effect followed but when I tried to insert my other hand the slime was a soft and squishy solid at its surface. The effect was strange and I spent a decent amount of time playing with it, but eventually I got curious about the rock thing floating inside it.

 

I touched the rock thing in the slime only to find that it was far softer and giving than I expected, it was more like rubber than rock. As I pressed harder and harder on the rubber-rock thing that I was beginning to think was the slime core thing that was mentioned a few times by father as being useful, the slime started to shake, pull away, and make gurgling noises. Eventually the core popped and the slime just seemed to die and flatten out to half its height. It reminded me of a puddle of sorts.

 

I simply put the other slime in the stream as I was curious about why they avoided the water. The slime expanded to almost twice its size, became more transparent, and made sloshing noises, but then its core just sort of dissolved and it seemed to melt into the water.

 

I spent the rest of that day looking for more slimes to play with and test things on, learning lots of things about the strange creatures and only killing two more. One on purpose to see what happened when its core was removed, and one by accident when I checked to see if slime cores could move around inside the slime and ended up accidentally removing the core.

 

There was one slime that kept following me, it was the one whose core I touched and rubbed for almost half an hour to see just how fragile slime cores were. It had followed me for the entire day after that, even going so far to follow me to the tree I decided to sleep in that night. When I woke up in the morning and it was still there I decided to keep it, and I named it Del.

 

After Del was my pet I taught it some simple commands which took far less time than I was expecting, and I also began experimenting on any other slimes I found to learn more about them and their biology. I learned that while slimes could eat anything and usually melted anything that was put inside them to consume, they could also chose not to do that or only desolve and consume very specific things leaving everything else inside themselves completely intact and safe. I learned that slimes evolved based on what they consumed and their environment, and that they liked to eat the crystals that formed around me. I learned that they reproduced by forming another core inside themselves and splitting into two, something Del never seemed to do. I learned that slimes were also practically immortal unless something happened to their core, and that they only needed to have some sort of liquid every few days to survive.

 

I decided that I would feed Del only my crystals and some water periodically so that it didn’t evolve into something until I had found the perfect evolutionary path for it, and experimenting with slimes became my hobby. I always tended to release them after I was done since they didn’t provide anything that could be food or materials I could use when they were dead, this lead to there being a rather large slime population around where I made my first home. Sometimes they would even leave me food offerings in exchange for my giving them crystals, as such I never bothered to chase them off or cull the slimes since they really didn’t pose me any real threat to me yet brought the added benefit of periodic berries, roots, or nuts for me to eat.

 

I spent my time simply those days, training Del to follow commands, teaching myself to set traps and use the bow I made, hunting and gathering for food, exploring the forest and making emergency bolt hole dens, experimenting with slimes and some of the other monsters that caught my eye, and sleeping when I got too tired to stay awake any longer. My life was like that for two whole seasons and during that time I had learned much about myself, my surroundings, and how to survive. It was a good and peaceful time were I was free to do whatever I pleased and the only thing I had to worry about was the monsters that lived deeper in the forest, but then the big cat monster came and ruined all that.

 

I looked up at the setting sun as I pulled myself out of my thoughts of the recent past. I hadn’t noticed that my hand had sunk into Del and I was currently petting its core while it trembled and made almost purring noises. Del was strange in that it actually seemed to like when it touched its core, still I didn’t do it too often since slime cores were so delicate and I didn’t want to accidentally kill my pet.

 

I took my hand out of Del as it continued to tremble and purr, it wouldn’t be too long now since night tended to descend quickly here in the forest. I would be able to make my move on the goblins under the cover of darkness soon.

 

I looked down to see that there were only two guards watching over three of the greys, what looked like two males and a female. I had missed what happened to the other two greys, but judging from the noises and cries coming from the inside the den below I guessed that they at least were still alive even if they didn’t want to be at the moment.

 

So they really were meant as breeding stock… Well, I guess this means I’ll have to wait until the greens are done and the greys are back together in one spot before I try anything, hopefully they aren’t up to carrying on like this all night…

 

I picked up Del and put it back on its signature place on my head, and spoke quietly.

 

“Del, Grip.” (Nox)

 

As I felt the slime find its hold on my head, I took my hand away and reached out to brace myself against the tree’s trunk as I rose into a crouch. I felt the thrill of the hunt begin to flow through me and I felt myself begin to smile.

 

I’ll have to be quick and quiet… I’ll get in close so I don’t have to use any of the arrows, then I’ll take out whatever greens are unlucky enough to be the guards tonight… I should be able to find a decent sized rock, or maybe a good strong stick I can use… If all else fails I can always use that old trick to turn them against each other…

 

I licked my lips as I focused in on my prey. I would enjoy this, I always enjoyed my hunts and I especially enjoyed when I brought down whatever prey it was that I set my eyes on. It was time to prove that the monster hunting me was far from the only dangerous predator in this part of the forest……………




and that’s the chapter…..

 

Props to anyone who figured out all the flags i set up in just that one chapter, and if you noticed the deeper psychological aspects i slipped in there then you get the special internet cookies i’ve been saving up…..

 

I’ll be working on this a bit in my spare time all this and next week, but i have tests and studying to do for said tests to do too so that’s going to impact how much i’ll be able to write…..

 

anyway, hope you enjoyed the read!!!! point out any glaring errors in the comments, it helps a bunch when i go back through and do my cleaning….

 

remember to comment, rate, review, favorite, follow, and share!!!!

 

Author Out………

[ Previous Chapter ]   [ ToC ]   [ Next Chapter ]

Do you enjoy AaronDragon\'s stories? Help him put out more by becoming his patron on Patreon!!

One thought on “Chapter 1: Hunted and hunters in the forest”

Remember to comment and share!!!