Heavy breathing and grunts could be heard along with the steps of several people running across the ground.
In the bright forest where the sun pierced with its ray a man could be seen running with blood constantly leaking out from his body along with several people with various weapons chasing after him.
"HEY STOP RUNNING!"
"It doesn't matter how far or how long you run, we will find you!"
"You will die!"
Multiple people in cloaks could be seen with swords and daggers chasing a man down through the woods. They had bloodthirsty smiles on their faces as they continued to pursue him. Anxious to kill him and ran even faster knowing he wouldn't be able to run forever. Blood constantly leaked down from their victims body and it was only a matter of time before they caught him.
They were running through a vast large forest full of vitality around him. Animals and beasts of various kinds roamed here and many types of exotic plants and herbs could be seen from every corner. It was beautiful scenery that resembled much like a mystical forest in some fantasy book parents would read to their kids as they soothed them into slee. That was at the bottom of the man's mind.
As he continued to run more and more and gasping for air as he did trying to exert every power he had. Due to his experience back home, he understood forest type environments the most and it was due to this he had managed to run and escape for so long. After running for who knows how long, he quickly inspected and examined his surroundings and upon seeing nothing but the usual or rather unusual and strange fauna and hearing nothing strange he decided to rest down on a tree nearby.
A sigh of relief escaped his mouth as he started breathing heavily for air. His face was pale and sweat covered and drenched his body. Still, even though he had finally escaped from his pursuers he still felt weak as he looked down to his waist.
"Huang…" He groaned as he grabbed the dagger embedded into the bottom of his waist and pulled it out as he quickly placed another hand on it.
It was a stupid decision, a stupid thing to pull out something from your body without the tools or materials needed to immediately patch it back up as upon removal the blood loss would worsen. Yet he still did it anyway. He saw no way out and no way to escape and he was only denying the inevitable.
A small part of him accepted his soon to be fate subconsciously yet the conscious part was unaware of this and hence quickly put his hands over it.
One hand covered the bottom left of his waist where there was a big wound he had gotten from a previous battle.
"Last 100 standing after 24 hours gets to pass on to the next floor." It was those simple words said by the Test Administrator that lead to his current predicament.
In not even less than an hour what was originally a little over a thousand participants half of that number had died during the fierce massacre that took place. Just thinking about that sight terrified him.
The scene where giants over 20 ft (6m) loomed over the battlefield with gigantic axes reaping many lives with each swing. Monsters with such physical strength that sent shockwaves which reverberated throughout the area and destroyed many trees and even the ground with each punch were duking it out.
Poisonous gas clouds and explosions had crept their way into the battlefield as many diverse people with unique skill-sets fought.
Death, Slaughter, Flames, Massacres, were all that was present in what was originally a peaceful environment and used to send a calm soothing feeling to one's soul.
However, even after seeing all this, Theos Evergarden, the man bleeding right now, kept a brave front.
While the feeling of fear had seeded himself with him, he had still maintained a determined expression and held tightly onto his spear and joined in the fray, managing to kill some of the other participants in the process.
However, half an hour later, even as more and more died, the battlefield only got more and more dangerous as participants started to go even more all out and use more of their strength. Soon enough the feeling of fear in his heart had fully blossomed as he saw what he considered true monsters finally revealing the power they had all along.
His motivation had crumbled down when a large yell had echoed throughout the section of the forest as with a single punch a giant of a man sent multiple people at once flying several miles away and even destroying everything in front of that punch. Even affecting the nearby area as those around the giant got pushed back by the immense wind generated by the punch.
'TERRIFYING!' Was the only thought in Theos' mind.
There was no way anyone could survive that. How could such a monster be allowed on this floor!? How can anyone beat this trial when someone of his caliber is here?
Theos' mind was in chaos but it got more chaotic when he had seen several individuals instead of being scared shitless directly to rush and fight the monster on even grounds.
Soon after, he had realized this giant wasn't the strongest as he saw many other individuals perform abilities and showed strength that rivaled or even surpassed him! Fight? How! Compared to them he was so weak. He would be instantly crushed just by being near them.
With this in mind he dropped all thoughts of fighting and deciding to run and hide. It was a cowardly act but he didn't care. In his eyes, honor wasn't worth shit if it means he dies like some insignificant ant destined to be forgotten the next day.
"Hahaha what was I *cough cough* thinking.." A small chuckle escaped from his mouth as he stared at the boundless sky that seemed to have no limit to its size. Upon coming to the tower he, like everyone, thought they were worth shit. He had come from humble origins in a small village that specialized in agriculture and farming.
Upon birth he always had a physique and strength above others and learnt at a rapid rate. He truly thought he was blessed by the heavens themselves as he managed to fight and hunt beasts even the strongest villagemen couldn't.
Everyone back home in his village praised him for his strength and power and labeled him with many terms and titles.
His ego was boosted by their ignorant praises and false assumptions. Upon entering the tower Theos Evergarden, the man who was currently dying due to blood loss while being hunted down by multiple pursuers. He foolishly thought rising up the tower would be easy. He thought he could achieve what many couldn't and become a ranker but.. upon seeing the strength and power of the other participants.
Instead, seeing how weak he truly was compared to them his ego was immediately shattered and he threw out all those grand dreams and goals he had. Soon after the massacre that had erupted, he had only survived purely out of luck. By now all the weak participants around his power level or less had been wiped out and only those strong remained on the floor.
As the requirements only required 100 to survive, many decided to form teams and squads and fill those slots up.
After all, at this point everyone was strong and had enough power to rival them so killing them wouldn't be easy alone and having a team would be useful later on in the tower.
This was the thought everyone here had. So after taking time to form teams, they all started to battle each other.
It wasn't long after a small team of 3 found Theos hiding and attempted to kill him. He managed to defend himself with his spear he had brought along with him to the tower but was in the losing position.
It was only after he had made a bold move by stepping back and using his spear to break a tree near him that he had managed to run as the huge tree blocked their way for only a brief moment and the dust that came out of it helped cloud his movements.
Though, as mentioned before it only blocked them for a brief moment and it was right then he had gotten his wound as a dagger came at high speeds straight out of the dust and punctured his waist.
"HEY I THINK HE'S AROUND HERE!" Upon hearing this Theos eyes immediately widened and became pinpoint. 'How did they..' was what he thought before seeing a trail of blood that led to his current position.
'F–fuck!' He heard them crept closer and closer to his location, even though he would run once more, at this time he couldn't.
He used up all the stamina he had left trying to run from them before and due to the amount of blood he had lost he had little physical strength left and his situation continued to look more and more dire. Death was gradually getting closer and he could feel it. '
'I'm not ready to die here or ever. There are still things I haven't accomplished yet, a world I still haven't explored and many things I have yet to see.'
He started to crawl deeper and deeper into the forest with the little strength he had. Unknown to everyone as Theos was too busy trying to survive with his life at stake and his pursuers determined to kill him, this part of the forest was devoid of wildlife.
There were no birds chirping, no deers to be seen running around. No wild beasts around and hunting for prey.
It wasn't much longer he could crawl foras he started to feel numb all over due to the amount of blood he had lost.
"Hmmm" a strange sound different from the sounds of the steps of multiple individuals walking towards him reached his ears.
"W-what is that." He was curious and he stared around before finally placing his eyes on a strange blue orb with ancient engravings on it.
It seemed to have some sort of attraction force that bewitched those that. It's allure seemed to be able to draw anyone in. So,
Theos decided to crawl to it after judging it wasn't too far to reach with his current abilities.
After a few seconds he had crawled and reached the orb, by now he was having troubles even staying conscious.
He held the orb in his hands and just stared at it.
It was a beautiful thing to behold as it shined and glistened in his hands yet when he went to remove some specks of dirt on it with his other hand now fully bloodied due to covering his wounds.
The originally bright blue orb shined red as it melted in his hands.
"What the fuck?" He thought of seeing such a strange action but before he could pursue this matter further, the ones chasing him down finally entered his line of sight.
"Finally, we found you. Fucking rat, if it wasn't for the time limit I would make sure to have my sweet time torturing you for making us run for so long." One of the men said as they walked closer to him.
'Is this truly the end?' Seeing as death was imminent, his life flashed before his very eyes. He remembered everything from his time as a baby, to the time he was out in the woods learning how to hunt with his father. He remembered all the good times of his life when his sister was born to the villagers in complete awe as he brought home the beast many hunters had failed to kill.
He also remembered all the bad times like when his grandpa died due to old age or when the village faced a food shortage during a particular winter and faced the harshest winds and cold they had ever seen. He continued to reminisce and relive his past and thought about his life.
He thought about villagers back home who were so happy and thought he was destined for many great things in the tower. He thought about his father who taught him many things and his family that loved him dearly.
'I'm barely 16 and already I'm about to die. I still have a full life ahead of me. I don't want to die' tears leaked out from his eyes causing the pursuers to mock him seeing them pour out of his eyes.
He truly wasn't ready to die and was unwillingly. If only he was strong enough...if only...these were the last thoughts of Theos Evergarden as his head was decapitated and blood sprayed all over the ground.
AN: Tell me what you think about this chapter. Also this isn't the same TOG as the manhwa. It is an AU so expect some slight changes here and there. Nothing too drastic though.