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The Orc's Awakening c33

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

Chapter 33: 【STRENGTH】Awakening


<Ayse’s Perspective>


It’s no secret that I am and have always been an [outcast].


Since I was little, I was infatuated with [strength]. That alone isn’t strange. Many women seek out strong men. But for me, I didn’t want to be seen as a [woman]. I wanted to be seen as [strong]. Someone who could stand beside and be recognized as one of the [strong] ones.


But in this world, a woman’s role is either reproduction or pleasing and appeasing men. I wouldn’t have minded that if there was one single decent man…


But there wasn’t….


There was no man who was truly [strong] in mind, body, heart, and soul.


If they excelled in one area, they fell terribly short in the rest.


But that is all changing now...


Layla finally woke up.


Her fever was gone. Her skin color had a healthier hue than before, and we all gave our regards and left the room to let her rest.


So much has happened today.


I sat outside on a log holding a flower the Treant gave to me.


It was a species of sunflower that I saw in the Western Great Plains when I was still traveling with my people. It was small with a ring of red and orange inside the yellow edges - colors that reminded me of my home country.


Holding onto this will keep the Forest dangers away, is what he said.


I placed the flower’s short stem through one of my braids, and it curled and attached itself firmly on its own.


My typical dry, curly hair had an unusual sheen and shine today as if it was carefully washed and cared for with clean water and scented oils. I gently sniffed the pleasant aroma from my braids and had to wonder. Undoing my braids to wash my hair is too much work, so I haven’t taken the time to do so recently. But since that night with the Round One, my hair and skin seems to have taken on a life of its own.


Even more curious is….


I grip my axe’s short handle. A weapon I’ve used for most of my life - my sturdy and reliable companion.


But now, there’s a new mold indented on the handle in the shape of my fingers where I gripped it. The wood handle bent like soft clay in my hands.


The blade seemed more dull than what I recalled. The cold steel seemed much more crude, brittle, and unreliable than before.


I took my fingers and bent and straightened the sharpened point on the end of the handle as if it was made of thin wires. I know of [Gifted] [Strength] Warriors, but few could bend and mold steel with their hands like this. If it’s like this, my hands would be more reliable than my weapons.


[Heaven's Blessing]


[Genius Gift]


[Divine Blessing]


[God's Power]


There are many names to describe those born with exceptional [Gifts].


But unlike [Gifts] which is power we claim for ourselves, this【strength】is not my own. It drummed into my body from the【warmth】emanating from the【heart】of this world. Or so I thought.


My people idolized the soil and the planet and for good reason, but now, something completely alien flowed through me.


I was simply a conduit. Like a crevice in the ground, the river simply ran through me because it now could.


【POWER】ran through my entire being. I felt like I could take on a Monster now with just my fists.


..........HA! It’s the thought of an Insane One.


I’ve met many fighters in this world. Some were giants of men, but the bigger they were, the bigger the weapon they carried. Even with their inhuman strength, none would use their fists as weapons unless forced to as a last resort. The stronger they were, the easier they could lose their hands with a single punch to any hard surface. If the bone shattered once, very little can be done to repair it. You can replace weapons, but you cannot easily replace hands. Yes, there’s merit to knowing how to fight barehanded, and there are arenas for that, but our real fight isn’t against people. It’s against true Monsters. It’s said that our swords can’t pierce their scales, and their claws and teeth melt through our armor like wax. Against Monsters like that, no one dreams of fighting barehanded.


The City Dwellers love showing off their fancy guns, and line them up on their walls, but ammunition is too expensive and mass production is out of the question due to material costs. Even those guns on the walls are mainly for show, and used more often for fireworks during festivals. Because of that, none have firearms when they reach the [Seeker’s] Camps. The death rate is 100% for the [sojourners]. If any of them carried firearms, it would most likely be lost as soon as they set one foot inside the forest and returned to the earth.


I grip my fists, and jab the air.


A wall of wind pushed through weaving in and out of trees until it landed a blow to a tree 100 steps away.


I kick the air and the smaller trees bend as a sudden gale whipped past them and leaves fly everywhere.


This is absurd. Where does all this【strength】come from? I can feel the【strength】of the earth move with me and through me.


That dream I had with the Round One......


I think back to the vision the Round One showed me.


I thought we were dreaming at the time. I’ve had some interesting experiences with the elders' pipes and herbs they used to see visions, but this was completely different. It felt too 【real】 to be just a thought or the trick of the mind, and even now, I can close my eyes, step into that realm, and see the fiery, living mountain surrounded by a never ending forest, plains, and fiends as it collided with the ocean beyond and the stars above.


I don’t know what that place is. But I open my eyes, and I am back in the Man-Eating Forest.


This forest around me is like a shadow of that world in comparison - a dangerous statement - an unforgivable heresy if the Wise Men of the Plains heard.


Ayse: “There is nothing beyond [The Great Terra]. [The Great Terra] includes the stars of our ancestors and the Spirit Realm of our forefathers. All things eventually return to [The Great Terra] - in life and in death.”


I chant the mantra we learn as kids on the Great Plains. The [Seekers] believe in something beyond the stars. The scholars believe in [Science] which is just the [The Great Terra] in disguise. But what the Round One showed me, WHERE he took me was….【real】for lack of a better word. It was more【real】than the reality surrounding me. What now flowed through my veins was proof of it. I am more 【alive】 now than I have been my entire life. My body was nothing more than an empty, mobile clay jar before my night with the Round One. Now it was brimming and overflowing with【life】.


The Insane One. That is now who I am. I have completely and absolutely lost my mind.


Excitement gripped me as I scooped some mud into my hands.


I spread the mud into puddles of patterns across my skin. I can make the mud move on its own on my skin, and it melted and etched into my skin as dark, sharp patterns. It is war paint. But the drawings writhe and change on my skin as if it is alive. It is shifting according to my thoughts and moods.


I silently crouch and begin running through the forest with only my instincts guiding me.


<<<<>>>>


It did not take long to find what I was looking for.


An [Armored Grizzly] roamed about this area.


His scent and markings were easily identifiable and simple to track down.


It simply had no reason to hide.


The flower may have kept [danger] away, but it didn’t prevent me from finding it.


Although it wasn’t considered a [Watcher], an [Armored Grizzly] was a terrifying creature - a Class 3 Threat to humanity.


It dominantly prefers the forests and mountain ranges within the [Watcher’s] Territories, so you do not see them in the Great Plains, the swamps, or near the seas typically.


They typically travel alone unless it’s in pursuit of a larger group of humans. They serve as the 1st wall of defense for the Monsters' Armies and can take an astounding amount of punishment before it goes down. But that’s only if you draw it out into the open.


Inside the forest, it is almost impossible to defeat.


My heart pounded as I walked calmly towards it.


This is nothing short of suicide.


An action of an Insane One.


Power, Speed, Armor, Weapon, and Technique - the [Armored Grizzly] beats humans in every aspect. Unlike bears who roam the wilds and flow with the nature of this world, Monsters are like boulders thrown into rivers. They do not move with the flow - they disrupt it. They are not from this world. They were sent here for one purpose - to kill humans.


Humanity is too fragile. The scholars say our [minds] are our greatest weapon. But if you give any of our enemies [minds], suddenly, we are the inferior. It is the same with the [Monsters]. They’ve been [Gifted]. They’ve learned. They’ve trained. And they will keep getting stronger.


Suicide.


This is nothing but suicide, Insane One.


I crack my knuckles and pop my neck.


The [Armored Grizzly] has a curious, puzzled look on its face.


Of course it does.


I could feel its thoughts.


[Is it lost?]


[Is it dumb?]


[Is it blind?]


No, you silly bear.


【I am strong】

It looks around to see if I’m some sort of bait.


It sniffs the air for explosives, trying to detect the well-hidden trap or poison that must be lurking in the area.


It finds none.


It finds no reason.


With pity in its eyes, it swipes at my head to take it off. A merciful strike so I wouldn’t suffer.


I wouldn’t have seen the swing previously.


But I take the paw with both arms and throw the beast across the forest.


I hear the crash and thudding as it breaks branches and pummels through bushes.


It’s not hurt. Just surprised. Shocked, really.


I don’t know what [W・T・F?!?!] means, but it’s huffing and hustling back to see if I’m still standing here.


[Maybe it’s just something I ate? A bad dream?]


No, I am here.


I am still here.


It sits on its haunches and licks the back of its paw to groom itself.


It absently grabs a honeycomb from a fallen tree and munches on it as it stares at me and scratches its head with its large paw.


I could hear its question now, more clearly than before.


[What are you?]


I don’t know.


I just know one thing.


That I am.


I just….【am】....now….


What I am is irrelevant.


Ayse: “I am Ayse, the Insane One ー an outcast blessed by my meeting with the Round One. Today, I baptize you in the fire of my new【strength】.”


For quite some time, the ground continued to shake and rumble for several hours in that area.

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