1 Kaelud Ethelon Mortes

What happens after you die? One of the few questions which the living will never receive an answer. I don't know for others but I got the answer for mine.

You start again, in another world. Magic and sword, you know how it goes. You get the cheat from some god who apologizes to you for the incident with truck kun.

Then the beauties flock to you as you continue to act dumb and dense in front of them, and you spout some nonsense about justice this or justice that while beating up random idiots called villains with your cheat.

Girls will get along together just fine because they love you too much and money won't be an issue, since you can kill a boss or two, and live few years throwing money from the acquired loot left and right without a single worry.

How nice would it be if it was like that for me too? Compared to that glorious dream of thousands of men with bad eyesight, my reincarnation is just... How should I put it? 'Miserable'? or maybe 'Cruel' would be the more fit description for it.

In a fantasy world filled with full of 'reality', my future was pretty much decided at the moment I was born. Why? Although both magic and martial arts exists here but both of them requires special talents.

By 'talent' I mean the huge gap which almost impossible for me or anyone to fill with no matter how much hardwork or amount of time and money they put in.

To be specific, the people of this world has an extra organ which produces mana and controls it with. Thanks to this organ people are able to overcome the limits of human body and create miracles reserved for gods.

In this world, those who lack it from the birth are destined to be like a duckling mixed within swans, isolated and looked down upon. Those who were born without 'Kardia' are called 'Hoson' which literally means 'empty' in the common language used by the most of intelligent races of this world.

Learning two languages from the scratch was pretty tough for me, since the almighty above never cared about inconvenience brought by the lack of communication to the reincarnators like me.

And the day I found about me being Hoson after spending good amount of work and effort to learn the languages of this world was 'crushing'.

That day, I was reading a book about magic out loud, trying my best to learn to read and write beside my parents as they made my favorite food for dinner.

"Sim-ple way to test whe-ther one possess Kardia or not is to check by m-ana veins. Mana veins are usually hid-den right under normal veins and when the blood flow is obstruc-ted they become obser-vable. Golden colored, glowing veins"

As my parents were focused on their conversation about how much cabbage they should put in, seven year old me tied my right wrist tightly with my shoelace. Feeling the numbness coming from my arm, I waited for the golden veins to show up with an over excited emotions.

"Kaelud! What are you doing!?" flustered voice of my mother came from the side as I kept staring at my now purple colored arm with utter dismay and shock for who knows how long.

If I have to describe the feeling I had back then, it would be 'Bitterness and realization'. Although I knew this world was lot more unforgiving than my old one, I escaped from all the negatives with the hope and dream for magic. And that little hope got crushed so ruthlessly by the reality.

"Diana, what's wrong? Did Kaelud do something?" father asked behind her as he walked in closer and when he saw my listless eyes, he was confused at first but he understood everything after looking at the mother who was hurriedly trying to untie my numb arm with tears in her eyes.

"Kaelud, do you know the reason why us humans are still alive in this world? We are not as tough as Worgens, we have no blessing from forest spirits like Dryads and we are not as numerous as Terres"

"Be it vitality, strength, speed and amount of mana, us humans are much weaker than them in all aspects" he asked me as two of us climbed up the mountain near our house after I found out I was Hoson.

Father and son talk huh? Well, it's not like I'm against it but getting life lesson from the person who is about same age as myself is kind of awkward...

Mid twenty in my past life and adding seven years here, I'm on my early thirties, at least mentally. And my father here, is in his mid thirties.

I admit I'm no match in terms of life experience with him being someone from the world where blood and death is everywhere you look. Still I have some pride as I have already experienced death once, the final reward gods grant to the mortals.

But the miseries I had to go through ever since my new life has started is here again to inflict heavy damage to that little pride of mine. I had to act like a baby boy and let my parents believe that I'm perfectly normal kid who is slightly more intelligent than others.

Tilting my head like a moron, I stopped and took stance of someone who is seriously considering the question. As I had to act my part being spoiled brat my answer needs to be something with sarcasm mixed in to express my bitter feelings for being Hoson.

Then again, how did humans survive in this world? Four intelligent races exist here and humans lack everything except intelligence. But we are not much smarter than them, and technology of humans are little bit inferior compared to some of them.

Population, fertility, resources and location, humans have nothing that stands out within other races. I am surprised how mankind managed to survive and kept their independence.

All four races of this world is hostile towards each other. Worgens and Terres treat everything that moves aside from themselves as food whether it could talk or not.

Dryads hate to get themselves involved with other races and holds firm belief that we are pests which needed to be exterminated asap.

Humans treat other races as slaves and holds deep hatred towards other races. Diplomacy between races is practically nonexistent, its basically kill on first sight.

Now back to the question... Why are we still holding a seat in the war of the food chain?

"Because they don't really care about us?" I asked back as this was the only thing I came up with after wracking my brain. I'm a bit embarrassed with my answer being question but asking questions is specialty of kids. And I need to act like one, so that's all there's to it.

"Haha, they don't care about us huh? Interesting answer but you're wrong" Father laughed heartily as he squatted down to meet my eyes.

"To the Worgens, Human blood is like a wine gifted from the gods, if they taste it once they thirst for more for the rest of their life"

"Dryads use our Kardia to nurture their offspring and our newborn babies as pots for their garden"

"Terres craft their famous spears from our bones and they treat us as living stock. So tell me, my son, do you think the reason we humans are still alive is because they don't care about us?"

I gulped down my saliva forcefully as I heard those words. Although I knew this world was perilous and far more cruel place than earth, I never imagined this.

My parents warned me about other races before but I never took it seriously. Just how dangerous could it be? They are intelligent races after all so I imagined as long as we talked things through there were possibility that we could relate or something.

Besides common sense in the novels I've read clouded my mind from this reality filled fantasy world. I dreamt for the legendary harem of multiple races but once again it was crushed mercilessly.

But then again, this world is filled with reality and all kinds of individuals exist in the reality. Maybe there are kind, beautiful, devoted and understanding women in other races who might be just waiting for me to pick them up.

As I drifted into my inner chaos, father ruffled my head and continued his speech with fervent tone and incredible aura.

"What's keeping us alive is the 'Will', a strong determination to live! Fearless heart that burns itself for it's continued beats"

"Fearless heart casts an unbreakable curse called 'fear' upon it's enemies. And that fear is the secret of mankind's survival" golden energy leaked out of his body as he continued to speak. This energy is called mana and probably because of his emotional fluctuations it manifested itself outside of his body.

His eyes became sharp and bloodshot, winds rose from the fluctuations of his mana, throwing his long hairs upwards.

"That is why, even if you lack Kardia, no, because you lack Kardia, you must possess this unshakable determination and endless greed for life itself! Use everything and anything for your survival and protect what's yours at all cost!"

"Seal your emotions, kill your conscience and ignore the gods if you must! As long as you are alive you can bend the laws of the world itself"

Then he stood back up and turned his gaze towards the sky where 'MunkhSar' a moon which shines both day and night were. Meaning of its name means 'Immortal Light' in the common language, and people of this country believes that's where the gods live and gazes down at mortals.

"Son, I know you're discouraged and will suffer because of my fault. But please don't blame your mother for not granting you a Kardia. It's all my fault as I've angered the gods with all the sin I've committed" he sighed deeply as if he was reminiscent of the past while I stared at his back in silence, unable to ask what sin he has committed. He turned his gaze back to me as he continued.

"So blame me and blame those gods who are gazing down at us, laughing"

Three years passed since then, I am ten now. Our house is located near mid sized mountain called 'Kharul', which means Black Mountain. I don't know the reason why we live here in the wilderness far from others, isolated.

The main road towards 'Raso-Eason' a country to the south, lies around two days on foot from here so we get our commodities from the merchants who travel on that road.

Currency of this country is called 'Yembu'. There are Silver, Gold and Ruby Yembus, each equals a hundred of the previous ones. They are shaped like a little dumplings with two wings. And their size is about half of an adults little finger.

Also there are bronze coins with square shaped hole in the middle. They're used for everyday little exchanges.

Ethelon hunts in the woods for the meat, bone, skin and mana crystals of the beasts. As Kharul mountain woods are not so big, the danger level of the beasts inside are on the low side and its relatively safe place to hunt.

Mother and me takes care of the skins and process them. Then she sews leather boots out of the materials and we sell them to merchants every now and then.

A pair of boots of an adult sells for 3-5 Silver Yembus and we produce about fifteen or so pair each month which makes our monthly income about 60 - 80 Silver Yembus. If we add mana crystals and some other materials, it would reach about 1.5 Gold Yembus.

For a small family like ours, not to mention that we live in the wilderness, the money we earn is enough. Honestly only thing we buy from the merchants are salt, various type of spices, soap and books.

Books are damn expensive but both Ethelon and Diana buys them without hesitation and forces me to read them.

But authors of the books are usually nobles and they include their own thoughts and ideals in them which is quite amusing. There was a book about medical herbs and ways to process and preserve them but half of the book was the praise for the some random Duke's twin daughter's beauty and grace.

Laughed my ass of that one. Seriously what was the author thinking? Maybe he was in love with both of them and wanted to let them know it by his book or something? If I were the Duke I would probably skin the guy alive.

Anyway, the sun is already about to set and Ethelon should be coming back soon. Most of the days he would go to the woods at dawn and return with his gains by the sunset.

I threw my red leather jacket on my shoulders and wore the boots made by Diana, grabbing the dulled iron sword leaning against the wall, I ran out of the house.

"Diana, I am off to Ethelon!"

I yelled loudly and ran upwards in the direction of Kharul mountain foot without waiting for a reply. Smell of the wild flowers, endless chirping of birds and crickets, the rich colors of nature gives one feeling of the freedom you have in this world.

Wonders of nature here is a level higher than earth and colors of flowers painted the wilderness with beauty that moves your heart.

Unseen and unknown flowers, thick and tall trees with red leaves decorating it's countless branches. Birds comparable to mythological creatures showing up here and there and singing unique songs of their own.

Bizarre insects of various colors jumped, crawled and glowed everywhere giving one sense of fascination with mother nature's creations.

Everytime I climb the mountain or take a look at the sky where MunkhSar shines gracefully, I remember I really am in an another planet and drown in its wonders.

While I was in stupor of my thoughts, I walked quite a distance till I heard a sound similar to cat purring. It was a very low tone sound so it quickly drowned in birds chirping but my ears managed to catch it.

I stopped moving immediately and looked around cautiously. There were grasses reaching my shoulders everywhere in the area I am currently in so visibility here was limited.

I know that sound, it belongs to the creature called 'Kharbars', a type of black panther that lives in this mountain. They rarely comes out of the woods, so I was fearless around the foot of the mountain.

But it seems my luck has run out. Now then, what am I supposed to do? Run? I'm sure if I do that it will chase me down out of its instincts and swipe at me once and I'll be divided into three small pieces of meats by it's sword like claws.

Make some noise and pray for miracle? No, if I make a loud noise it may provoke the beast and it will probably come charging at me.

Then the best solution is to sit down and wait for the attack. If the beast is cautious then it wouldn't attack me right away and wait for an opening. That'll buy me sometime.

I crouched down and tightened my grip on the dull iron sword used for my training with Ethelon. Although its basically a rod thanks to it's blades being dulled intentionally, the tip is still sharp enough to pierce.

Next, I tied my left arm with my leather jacket. The idea is to use it to block if the beast attacks. Since the attack of Kharbars will be enchanted with mana there's little hope for the jacket blocking anything.

Well, it is better than nothing. As I focused my senses, I saw some grasses to my left are moving in the opposite direction than others. I quickly faced that way and waited silently for it to appear while my heart started to beat faster and faster.

My chest moved up and down, my breath fastened and my heart beats filled my ears as I felt like my chest cage is barely managing to contain it within.

Cold sweats run down my back as I kept staring at the movements of grasses waiting for the horror within to appear.

Just a few seconds gone by but it felt like forever now. Fear gripped my body as I got tortured by the crawling speed of the beast. Maybe the beast is doing this intentionally, so as to pressure me down mentally, at this rate I might just die from the heart attack before the beast even appears.

Rustle

Finally a pitch black panther with two sharp metallic fangs of same length as short swords showed up from the grasses.

As it's golden pupils stared at me maliciously I gulped down my saliva in fear and my arms started to uncontrollably shake.

Three dagger like fangs protruded from each of its front legs. One swipe with them and I'll be literally resting in pieces.

It slowly circled around me while keeping their eyes on me. Trying to move my body frozen from fear I bit my lips forcefully and continued to change my position so as to make sure that I am always facing against the beast.

My only hope for survival against this guy is to sacrifice my left arm to its jaws and drive my sword to its brain from one of its eyes or from the bottom of its chin.

But this strategy requires the beast to bite my left arm, which means if this guy decides to smack me to death from the distance I will have no chances.

How should I force it to bite at my left arm? As I continued to simulate the battle in my head, the beast finally decided to attack.

It appeared in front of me almost instantly and smacked at me from the top with one of its front legs like how cats would smack at mouse.

Shit! I rolled to my left, dodging it with incredible reaction time for the first time in my life.

Boom!

The dirt shot up in the air and small crater with radius of half meter created in the place I've been just a second ago. Damn!, mana injected attacks are as ridiculous as ever! One hit game over is just too unfair! Seriously, I am starting to despair.

Kharbars got enraged when it saw it's weak prey escaped from its attack and roared loudly challenging me to battle of life and death.

I pointed my sword tip towards the beast while focusing my entire attention on its every movements. Though I dodged earlier attack, my sword arm still got grazed by and blood is flowing out from the damaged skin.

My body shuddered at the thought what would've happened if I received that attack instead of dodging. The moment my body shook a little, the beast came again, this time swiping with both of its paws from the front.

I jumped backwards with all my power and managed to dodge the attack again but the beast chased after me with charge.

I fell on my butt when I dodged earlier swipe so only thing I could do now was to try to stop it by swinging my sword recklessly for the hope of beast stopping out of caution.

Luckily the beast stopped its charge just as I wanted but it managed to swipe at my sword. Inflicting much pain to my wrist and forearm, nearly causing me to drop my sword.

I should've tied my sword to my arm! If I lose my hold on the sword I will have died in vain. I quickly repositioned myself while gritting my teeth in pain.

I held my sword in front of me and lowered my back prepared for its next charge. Kharbars stared at my sword cautiously, I guess the beast didn't like it after clashing against it earlier. Sword is made out of iron after all, hitting it with force won't do you anything good.

Anyway, I need to do something and at least inflict some light wounds on it, always being on the defense like now is just slowing down my inevitable death, I have to attack if I want to survive!

Haa!

Yelling loudly, I took action on the impulse and swung my sword vertically from up to downwards.

The beast dodged it with inhuman speed and swat at my sword with three of its fangs, throwing me off balance.

Just as I landed on the ground with my right shoulder the tail of the beast came whipping at my stomach with lightning speed.

Thud

Incredible pain assaulted me as I flew quite a distance away from my former position. How could I forget about the tail? Am I stupid? I should've thought about it!

Urgh!

I vomited out some of my lunch. The pain is killing me but I need to quickly take my stance! Thankfully I was still holding my sword, I am surprised how I managed to do that. Oh shit! The bastard came charging at me again!

I don't know how long the fight has been going on but I managed to survive dozens of its attack. I made a small cut on its left side but it didn't really achieve much except angering the beast.

My wounds piled up and I am losing blood more and more. My head is dizzy and my legs are unstable. My hands are shaking, not from fear but from the cut wounds on them.

This will be it, the deciding moment. The beast will swipe at me from the left, I know it just by looking at its eyes. How? I don't know but my instincts tells me so.

Kharbars jumped in front of me and swiped at me from the left just as I guessed it would. Bracing myself for the pain to come I sent my left arm wrapped in leather jacket towards those dreadful three fangs to block them.

The time itself slowed down as I saw fangs coming closer and closer in slow motion towards my left arm and the words Ethelon said to me that day three years ago rang out in my head.

"Use everything and anything for your survival and protect what's yours at all cost!"

Everything and anything huh? Then I will do so! I'll give that arm to you so give me your damn life! You fucking beast!

I yelled in my mind to give myself some courage, nonetheless the intense pain came from my left arm but I tried my best to ignore it and stabbed my sword toward it's neck with all my strength.

The 1/3 of the sword managed to pierce in but it stuck there and I couldn't stab it in any deeper. The beast let out a painful cry and its tail came whipping at my chest, I saw it coming but couldn't do anything as enduring the pain from my left arm took everything from me.

Thud

Enormous shock traveled throughout my body as I received the tail attack once more. My body once again sent into the air but because I still held the sword tightly, I was saved from getting thrown away.

My chest heaved up and down but I felt like I was suffocating, I hope my lungs are still working. The broken ribs could heal, but if it stabbed my lungs I would definitely die here.

Seeing me in front of it again, beast roared before biting at my left shoulders, with its two fangs sinking deeply into my flesh. Yet another tremendous pain and shock came at me again without giving me any break.

Damn you, I will give you back same pain! I put all my force into my right arm, to twisting iron sword which still stuck in the beast's neck.

The beast let out another miserable cry and its bite on my shoulder lessened just a bit. Crazed by my bloody rage, I even bit at its ear and kept twisting the iron sword. Blood dyed both of us red as we stayed like that, each barely breathing.

I guess the wound on its neck was fatal. I should have cut one of the main veins and the beast has lost too much blood to move now. I am in a similar condition so we stayed like that both feeling each other's faint breathing and both biting at each other.

After some time passed like this, my eyes started to droop as I felt very sleepy and cold. My second death huh? Well at least I have a company here, my previous one was too lonely. Besides fighting to death wasn't too bad... but I really don't want to go through this again... then I closed my eyes and drifted away into my dreams.

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