Woodman, Danger from Afar
The scene carried an air of strangeness as an old man appeared out of nowhere. He walked from a shrub-filled pathway with leisure, as if unaffected by the perilous roars of monsters that lurked within the range.
Marius stared at the strange man that looked no different from a bear, being a size larger than even himself. The old man was currently looking at the fallen Flaming Ice Tiger, his eyes showed curiosity as he shifted his pupils from the corpse towards Marius and his family.
“Oho… well now, this is a first. I’ve never seen a warrior of One Star G Rank fight and defeat a renowned F Rank Flaming Ice Tiger. I’d expect this from a well-known prodigy at a much higher rank. Yet, here I am in these distant mountains as a witness to this scene. You, young warrior, are not the ordinary man,” the old man spoke with a strange smile.
Marius narrowed his eyes at those words; even though the man seemed normal, he knew he was far from simple, even more so as he existed in this kind of mountain.
Who is this old monster? He could even sneak up on me without even drawing my attention; this has never happened before on Earth.
Marius was an elite assassin during his earlier years, born and raised to kill from childhood, even more so due to his uncommon strength granted by his innate skill.
Because of this, he only felt a chill in his heart when looking at this ordinary old man. Naturally, he didn’t dare to show weakness before a stranger as he calmed down and spoke with a poker face, “Who are you?”
“Oh? Do you mean this old man? Haha, yes. I’ve been in these mountains for so long that I’ve forgotten my manners. My name… hmm, let’s see, I’ve grown so old that I’ve already forgotten such a thing. I know; why not call me the Woodman? Yes, that sound’s good, perfectly fitting for an old woodcutter like me. Hehe,” the old man said with a light chuckle.
“Fine,” Marius agreed; the opposite party wasn’t interested in fighting, so he no longer showed too much hostility towards him. However, his caution was still in full effect.
When he was about to ask what he wanted from them, he felt a slight tremble from one of his arms and noticed that Rose was shaking while fearfully looking away from the old man.
“Huh? Little Rose, what’s wrong?” Marius asked, no longer paying attention to Woodman.
Rose placed her head onto his chest, not daring to look at the old man as she spoke, “Dadda! I’m scared!”
Marius was puzzled by this, he looked at her carefully and glanced at the man, but as he saw that the old man revealed no aura, he felt even more confused.
Woodman looked at Rose with a different expression; his eyes had a strange glint as he looked on in silence. Marius, who wasn’t paying attention to him, was only intrigued by why his daughter felt so scared. Still, right now, he knew he had a more important task to do.
“There-there, I’m here; you don’t need to be scared of anyone,” Marius said as he gently patted her back, trying to coax her, but this only made her feel sleepy.
“Dadda… I’m slweepy…” Rose said, her eyes turning droopy; the previous affairs had been far too much for her young mind and small body. As if reaching her limit, she nestled her head comfortably on his chest before falling into her sweet world of dreams.
Marius smiled as he saw this, gently fixing her hair as he whispered to her, “Good girl, don’t worry. When you wake up, it will be alright.”
While Marius focused on his daughter, Woodman had an unusual look as he glanced at the beauty in his arms, even more so at her hat that covered her purple hair. As if his eyes could peer through it, they narrowed as if he saw something unique. He then looked at Rose once more before fixing onto Grevlin, who stood beside Marius.
“Well now, who would have thought such a thing? Young lad, you’ve got quite the peculiar wife and children, truly an interesting combination indeed. In all my years of living in this world, you are the only man to have such a family,” Woodman said strangely.
Marius, who now looked up, didn’t like how the old man was talking; he gently held Rose and his wife when he directly faced him and asked, “What is it do you want from us, old man?”
Woodman chuckled as he saw Marius’s weariness. He spoke, “Your worries are unwarranted; I come with no intention of bringing harm to your family.”
Though Marius heard that and knew it was true, he still didn’t let his guard down. Woodman shook his head and shifted his eyes from them, peering at the morning sky. Now, the mists had already faded, revealing the clear blue sky and the endless greenery of the mountain.
With a look of relief, Woodman then spoke again, “Dawn has graced us in full splendor, and it’s a wonderful sight, I might say. My dear young warrior, I suggest you follow me now, for you won’t be able to survive here for long, even more so with those two kids and that wife of yours. You are fortunate to only encounter this kind of ‘common beasts’ after being summoned so deeply within here.”
Woodman made a willy smile before turning around and walking away steadily, no different from a typical old man hiking through a steep path.
Marius looked at his back with surprise, especially when he heard the man saying, ‘summoned,’ in his statement. He narrowed his eyes while thinking.
How could he know this? Could it be that he saw when we appeared from the portal? Or can he perceive something different from us?
As if he wanted to confirm something, Marius’ eyes turned sharp when he commanded with his mind, Inspect Status!
Target’s power is vastly superior to the User.
Inspection has failed!
When Marius saw this, he didn’t show surprise, he already had an idea that it would turn out like this, but he still tried his luck. Though Woodman was leaving, he was waiting on them to follow along. If he wanted to leave, he could easily vanish into thin air.
Marius gritted his teeth before he decided with his mind. Darn it! Now isn’t the time to think; he didn’t show ill intentions, and it’s apparent that he’s many times stronger than myself. If possible, I can use this chance to gather information. I’ll then check on Ria and speak with her about this mess when she’s recovered.
As Marius thought of Ria, he glanced at her in his arms. He sighed, seeing her in pain but knew this must be some strange effect of her secrets.
Marius no longer wasted any time. He glanced at Grevlin, who still stood behind him, and spoke, “Come, Grev, let us go.”
“Yes, dad,” Grevlin replied as he promptly followed behind Marius, who hurriedly walked over to the slowly leaving old man. Soon, the newly arrived family had vanished along with the stranger mountain man, fading into the bushes as they made their way to the depths of this strange mountain range.
It was clear that this would mark the beginning of his family’s tale in this mystical world. Yet, unknown to them, a change had occurred in a place within a far-off land, one brought by their appearance in this very world.
Far away from the isolated mountain region, within a distant land, one with a dark red sky and gloomy clouds that emitted red lightning bolts stood was a massive dark palace.
A resonant bolt of scarlet lightning flickered above the palace, streaking across the red heavens as it brought a startle in the world below. The mountains quaked as if they reeled in terror to its might.
At the summits of this massive palace with sharp edges, one that seemed no different from those sinister-looking castles shown in fantasy stories. It was a tower with a gigantic glowing eye that gazed beyond the horizon, peering into the distant unknown.
Suddenly, this eye shifted towards a particular location; it narrowed as if sensing something which though distant, seemed as if it was near at hand.
“I can sense the pulse of the void; the phenomena of a distant summoning, it’s them, they are here.”
A resonant voice said as following this, within the palace’s main hall shrouded by darkness, atop of a high throne at the center of this world, a shadowy indistinct figure, taller than the average man by more than a few meters with his body draped by dark cloak sat in silence.
As if disturbed, he opened his eyelids, revealing pupils like the strange gigantic eyes that lurked outside, before speaking in a deep and resonant tone, “Come to my aid, Gizzelon.”
In a flash, another indistinct male with two horns appeared out of nothingness, kneeling before the man on the throne. He spoke in a humble tone, “I have arrived to serve the ancient.”
The man on the throne said nothing for a while before his eyes stared down at him. He noticed that though the man knelt before him, a wave of complicated emotions that others couldn’t see fluctuated around his body, looking like colorful spirals of energy.
After a moment of silence, the man on the throne spoke again, “Gizzelon… you should know why I’ve summoned you here. The very mission with which only your clan can bare. Go now to the source of the souls summoned to this world and bring them… to meeee.”
Gizzelon lifted his head to stare at the man before he sighed and replied with a bow, “By the will of the ancient, I shall serve.”
Instantly, Gizzelon’s body had vanished into nothingness. The giant eye then stared out into the distance once more, piercing through the world to see its destiny.