The Orc's Awakening c35
Updated: Sep 23, 2021
Chapter 35: 【NATURE】Awakens
Shana: “～♪ ～♪”
Shana quietly hummed to herself as she held the soft Orc Doll in her hands and admired it as she sat on the main room’s sofa.
It was something she got from her Sister Noir.
Noir had always been very talented in the area of arts and crafts. Her fashion sense was immaculate, and she also had artistic talents which seemed unfair to her. Beautiful, fashionable, and gifted in many ways.
Noir was the mirror of what all women wanted. She may have lacked the overly voluptuous curves that are demanded from females in Cities for birthing purposes, but to Shana, being in the same boat as Noir, Noir represented the ideal woman - strong, smart, and beautiful. To be fair, Sister Layla and Sister Ayse also represented those same ideals as well. Sister Layla was incredibly smart, and no one could beat Sister Ayse in a duel.
Shana was…….the runt of the litter, and that’s putting it mildly. None of them were related by blood technically, but she strongly felt that they were tied with a bond deeper than that.
Her short brown hair had a tinge of red-ness in the right light, and freckles covered her cheeks. Certainly, compared to her sisters, she was “plain” or “average”, and out of the Four Blossoms, she wondered why it wasn’t “The Three Blossoms and the Stem”. Layla wouldn’t have any of that though.
[You are our dearest sister, Shana. Consider yourself as the “mascot” of the group. You are what motivates the rest of us to be the best we can be.]
Sister Layla was trying to encourage her at the time.
But a mascot? Like…..a beaver? She recalls recreational teams in the City leagues would use animals as mascots and team names. She didn’t follow the sports at all, but the “Midland Beavers” were one of the teams she remembers.
She certainly felt like a beaver following in her sisters’ shadows….
She held the doll tightly against her chest. She wasn’t sure why she was so fond of it…..no, she knows why. Though she’s never seen Mr. Orukus’ face, she guessed that it might look something like this.
“Inhuman” doesn’t even begin to describe the strength, power, and accomplishments he has done just looking around his den.
I mean, who else would have the [Ruler of the Forest] as a servant!
Sir Tree was most definitely the [Watcher of the Forest] that so many of her comrades loathed and cursed as they died.
She inadvertently called him, “Sir Tree,” and he didn’t seem to mind it at all.
[Very few have called me that…...it’s nice to be called by that name again…..]
He said so fondly, but his words were touched with an immense amount of somber memories. Shana just left the conversation there not knowing what else to do.
And Mr. Orukus….
She fell back in the soft cushions of the sofa as she considered the events of the day.
She reached towards her heart and felt it thump gently under her hand.
She didn’t understand why or how that word really applied, but it did. Inside of her, the ravaged state of her heart was no more. It was replaced by that one word ー【Home】.
As a bird's nest would be to a hatchling, a den would be to a fox, or a cave to a bear, human beings also had homes.
But most homes never lasted.
Most wandered the earth no knowing where they belonged.
It was a word of absolute certainty that she【BELONGED】somewhere. That she was【WANTED】and【CARED FOR】and most of all,【SAFE】.
There was no such place on this earth for her up until.......
A peaceful serenity filled her at the thought. The world seemed to fall in place around her, but it was only a reflection - a reflection of the things to come.
She had touched upon something【timeless】. A world that was not touched by this one. This entire world could crumble away, but that world would remain.
That's why【DEATH】was so frightening to her. Everyone <who had something to lose>, was terrified of【DEATH】. But to her,【DEATH】only terrified her because she didn't know what was being taken away from her.
She was looking ー looking for anything that would make her life worth the pain and agony she suffered before she died. But a【hopeless】death is not far from a 【regrettable】death.
Either way, she would be robbed of the good things to come or have those good things taken away from her.
That is how cruel【DEATH】was in this world.
She felt it at her very core now. Something beyond this world touched her. It revived her. It somehow overcame【DEATH】. You could almost say it cheated. It was unfair for【DEATH】to be robbed of its power completely.
And this world inside of her ー it called to her…..
But its voice did not call her to die…..but rather the complete opposite. It called her to【life】. The cycle of nature was broken inside this world of hers. 【DEATH】followed 【LIFE】but 【DEATH】 could not impose itself on her again after she came back to 【LIFE】.
She concluded that she must be insane.
No one in their right minds would ever understand her. It would be like explaining to a minnow in a mud-puddle, what the ocean was like. Or a bird trapped in a hole underneath the earth, what the sky was like. It’s absolutely pretentious and presumptuous, and it couldn’t be taken as anything else. Because they would never understand. They would never be able to comprehend or conceive that such things could be true…..
ーーunless they experience it themselves.
And it must be just the crazies overtaking her mind. It was just a feeling right now in Shana’s thoughts. It was insane ー insane to believe that all of what she experienced was【real】 and【true】.
As a “medical professional” (sarcasm intended), her diagnosis would be “insanity” - delusions, hallucinations, wishful thinking. She would be tied up and left for the [Monsters] to take her at night. Why not? From an outsider’s perspective, she’s a prisoner to a likely powerful Orc and the Watcher of the Forest. They would conclude that she was brainwashed ー somehow tainted by the [Monsters] and her mind was corrupted and lost.
She touched her head where the white flower was tucked into her hair. It was a common white flower known as a Rain Lily. Sir Tree gave it to her and told her that it would keep her safe if she wanted to walk in the forest.
She wasn’t sure how a flower like this could keep her safe in the Man-Eating Forest, but she held onto it. She was even tempted to test it.
There was still time until dinner preparations needed to be started.
Though it was absolutely a terrible idea, she made up her mind. If she truly was insane, then she would just have to resign herself to the consequences.
She would go take a walk by herself.
The forest was quiet. There were chirps of birds and some buzzing of insects, but overall, it was a very peaceful walk.
It was unimaginably peaceful.
The [Seeker’s] camp lies west and borders the Man-Eating Forest. The harvest from the small farmlands scattered further west towards Midland provides for some of the food and resources, and we were given the left-over dried provisions after all the cities were supplied. But in general, most of the [Seekers'] supplies come from the Man-Eating forest.
The forest both ironically provide sustenance for the [Seekers] and subsequently keeps their numbers to around the same each year.
Most resource gathering groups do not go very deep and collect what they need. Wood and timber are collected, but not in vast quantities. Thin out a forest area too much and the next morning, an entire camp of [Seekers] where the timber was gathered would have disappeared overnight ー and the timbers would be gone too. It was a warning from the [Watchers].
[Take enough. Never more]
That was the unspoken rule - an obscure standard that no one knew when the line was crossed. But overly zealous or greedy harvesters were immediately reported by their cautious peers since the consequences of failure could mean the death of the entire body of people in that area. If they were lucky, a struggling scholar may stagger into the camp and help identify precisely how much was “enough.” The calculations would be enormously overly complicated though.
It was the Expedition Teams that carried enormous uncertainty as they entered the deeper areas of the forest. The further you go, the less likely it was for you to come back at all. In some cases, you were not even supposed to come back. The colonizing missions of the [Sojourners] sent hundreds of people every day into the forest with the expectation to either find a location to settle within or beyond the forest.
No one knows what happened to those [Sojourners]. The Coast Dwellers on the other side (however far that might be), have yet to report of a single successful colony of [Sojourners] being established in any records.
Hence the name - Man-Eating Forest.
The icy lands in the north, the mountains of the East and West, the swamps of the Southeast, and the sea surrounding us were all the same. [Sojourners] were sent because there was no other place to go, and they couldn’t stay. Some tried to spin it with hopeful propaganda that paradise would be found on the other side. Most considered it a death sentence.
Her thoughts were drifting. Unlike the nerve racking Expeditions she would take with her sisters when they were on missions, this was a stupidly carefree, leisurely walk.
But God seems to have a cruel sense of humor.
Because out of a brush, a Night Wolf appeared.
<Night Wolf’s Perspective>
Strange. A human girl was walking in the forest.
It wouldn’t be odd if she was with a group, but she was alone.
I walked the perimeter around her, and there were no other signs of humans besides her.
And what’s more - the fire inside her burned brighter than any other human I’ve come across.
Every human has a time set before they pass from this world.
There are some of us who can see this, but most are just sent when the humans’ time has come.
Monsters see this differently.
I’ve heard from others that some see it as a continuous string like a thin rope until it reaches the end or the string is cut.
Others see a sphere of water that gradually grows smaller.
Still others, a plant that will grow and eventually wilt and disappear completely.
My Commander once told me that for him, it is like witnessing a transition from a full moon to a new moon.
Whatever the case may be, when the time comes, we will come take them away if they haven’t died already.
The humans call it death, but they are just passing. They are passing out of this world to the next.
It is our duty to initiate their passing ー but we do not determine where they pass too.
The Old Tree who has been to countless worlds doesn’t even know. In that case, I doubt anyone would.
We are the bond-servants of our master. We serve his will. We will fulfill our purpose to the end.
But what is this then?
I sense no great【strength】from her.
I sense no【threat】from her.
But the small fire that is usually like a shard of a smoldering piece of coal in every human soul is ー inside of her ー an endless burning light within her.
The light is not overwhelming.
If it was, we would have to send her out immediately before she crushes this fragile world into oblivion.
……..we would even be able to go near her in that case?
Man cannot touch the sun. Approach the star, and they’ll be incinerated.
In the same way, would we even be able to come near a【living soul】?
What IS she?
Neither【dead】 nor a【shadow】. Neither【passing】nor 【fallen】.
And the flower in her hair…….it’s the Old Tree’s mark.
He KNOWS of her?
He PERMITTED her existence?
Should I report this to the Commander? Has the Old Tree betrayed us? …...unlikely.....but not an impossibility. It was he who said, “All things are possible, all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial.” We are not immune to folly or corruption. Has the Old Tree gone senile?
She’s frozen in place. Her knees are shaking, and her face has gone pale. I can hear the chattering of her teeth like a woodpecker’s hunt.
Does she not know?
The forest abides by her will.
If she wished, she could make me pass on back to my world with a single word. It’ll be inconvenient, but it can’t be helped. I am not permitted to touch her. Doing so will go against our master’s will.
What will she do then?
I sat as I watched her, and we both stared at one another for a long moment.
I KNEW IT.
I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT!! STUPID!!
STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!
HOW COULD I BE SO STUPID!!
OF COURSE I WOULD RUN INTO A [MONSTER]!
I’M IN THE ACCURSED MAN-EATING FOREST!!
WHAT SHOULD I DO?!
SHOULD I RUN?!
SHOULD I PICK UP A BRANCH TO ARM MYSELF?!
…….it’s no use. A Night Wolf could kill me in an instant.
Am I going to die here?
…………..ummmmmmmm……….why……….isn’t it doing anything?
Oh, it’s a male. How did I know that?
He’s healthy and strong too.
There’s nothing wrong with his legs or reflexes. His eyes would judge the distance correctly, he could pounce on me from that distance, and rip me to shreds with those healthy sets of canine teeth.
Wonderful….just wonderful….that’s EXACTLY what I wanted to know before my inevitable demise.
But he’s not hurt. There’s no poison in his system. His eyes are focused, and his brain is fully functioning without issues.
……..um……….wait. What is all this? How do I even know all that?
I can feel information pour into me about his body. In fact, I could do that for almost anything surrounding me. The【natural world】seemed to be an open book now.
The grass, the trees, the flowers, the insects, birds, and animals…..it’s incredible how complex and constantly in motion all these things are.
They are all different. They all work differently. Yet we are all made from the same building blocks.
Alien knowledge is rapidly processing everything around me.
The more I look.........
The more I see............
The more my senses work............
The more I 【KNOW】now about the things around me.
…………...YUP, I’m insane. 100%, I have completely lost all my marbles. COMPLETELY and UTTERLY COO-COO～♪. Even though my [diagnosis] is telling me that [all my bodily systems are optimally functioning as intended], this is the crazy me talking inside of me. I don’t even know what that all means other than that it’s a good thing.
Exasperated, I continue to stare at the Night Wolf with no progress. He’s sitting on his haunches and continues to observe me. He doesn’t just look perplexed. He IS perplexed.
Do I smell funny? I sniff my clothes, but they smell normal. In fact, they smell cleaner than usual.
……….did I forget to wear pants?
I check and feel a great sense of relief. Not that a [Monster] would care though, but I’d like to die with my dignity intact.
……...is it because I’m holding a doll?
I’m suddenly conscious of the fact that a fully matured adult woman (though my sisters would debate the “fully matured” part) is carrying a dolly like a small child would.
I feel my cheeks blush, as I put Mr. Orky behind me to hide him from view.
……….but a [Monster] wouldn’t care about that either……
Shana: “Um……” The Night Wolf perks his ears at my words.
He’s got excellent hearing. The nerves in his ears…..OH NEVERMIND THAT!
Shana: “Excuse me, Sir Wolf…….can I….help you with something?”
He stands on his four legs and walks over to me.
I sense no malice from him.
He circles me wearily as he sniffs all around me.
[Strange….you truly are a strange creature]
Wait, if I didn’t expect for it to speak, why did I speak to it in the first place?!
Wait, but people speak to animals all the time, don't they!
My head spins as I argue in circles around myself.
But the fact of the matter is……..only [Watchers] and the highest-classes of [Monsters] can communicate with humans…...at least, that’s all according to our records…..
[Human Daughter, what is your name?]
I felt my heart stop at the realization.
He's a [Watcher]-Class Monster.