Chapter 104 Stranger in the Woods (Part 5)
Not only was the eye color breathtakingly beautiful but Crimson immediately recognized what it meant. It meant this boy, no. This man, was special. These eyes had been enriched by mana, and naturally turned into a pure color not normally seen.
The others who didn’t understand this, were still caught off guard by his eyes enough no to fully focus on the rest of his appearance. It took them a while to tear their gazes away and give him a good once-over.
In their eyes this young man was not very tall, but he wasn’t short either. He seemed to be about 5’8 to 5’9 with an average or so build. Perhaps it was due to the clothes and their torn condition, but they could tell that he had quite the athletic build that wouldn’t have been noticeable if his clothes weren’t in such a poor state. He was well proportioned and likely still developing. He looked young.
His age, demeanor, condition and those eyes just made him stand out far too much as he calmly sauntered towards them as if he wasn’t in the Bull-Wind forest where death was around every corner and seemed to linger in the air.
As he walked towards them, his gaze was mostly focused on the blood and the corpses in the area. Hands dangling at his side he looked surprised but not shocked by the sight of all of this death. Leo noticed that he didn’t seem appalled by all the blood and gore and something about that made him even more wary.
While most of the others were only looking at this stranger with some mild interest, most of them seemed to assume he was just part of one of the other groups who’d met an even more unfortunate end than theirs. A lot of them were still thinking about what had just happened and their most recent experiences. The blood and bodies on the ground were too much of a reminder for any of them to be able to simply put it out of their minds.
Except after Leo’s encounter with the beautiful woman in the woods and her eerie demeanor, the words she’d said had left a lingering effect that made him question this stranger before them. She’d all but said she wasn’t human. Leo had never before met another creature that wasn’t human but looked like any other human. This had shaken him quite a bit even if he hadn’t realized it and had made his mind begun to wonder what the differences between a human and anything else really were. Even though he hadn’t come to the conscious conclusion of asking himself ‘What’s the difference between a human and anything else? If another creature has higher reasoning, even though we’re different, aren’t we the same?’
None the less, after that experience Leo was now to on guard and the youth before him gave him the feeling that there was a lot more to him than what was on the surface.
Crimson stepped forward to meet him and said “Fellow traveler, where did you come from? Are you alone? This is a very dangerous forest to go wandering about so casually!”
‘Is he one of the participants? No not possible. I would have remembered someone like him.’ Crimson thought to himself.
The others in the area were only slightly wary but noticing his age, everyone seemed to let down their guard. If anything they were wondering who he was and why he wasn’t particularly intimidated by Crimson.
They were all thinking that he was likely from some other group that got attacked.
‘He probably ran away from everyone and got lost’ one of them thought.
The youth stared at Crimson, his face mildly amused as he said “Eh! I actually caught the end of that battle. You were really impressive! When I get older I hope I can match up with someone like you. That’d make me super intimidating!”.
“What battle? I didn’t do a damn thing.” Crimson stated
The youth simply shrugged and looked around leaving Crimson to wonder.
‘Is this guy crazy or what?’ he wondered.
Daichi thought to himself after speaking ‘Yeah… That’s good right? That sounded normal? I think that sounded normal. I even compliment this guy. Damn it. 100 years of talking to myself non stop it’s no friggin wonder I’ve even more of a head case than I was before!’
Daichi had never been good around people, and public speaking was never a strong suit for someone as reserved as him. Even though it seemed like he was looking around at the surroundings, he was actually surveying the entire group. Being around this many people suddenly made him feel so out of place regardless of how much he wanted to have a conversation with someone.
Crimson laughed at his response walking closer to the youth, lifting his hands as if to shake his hands as he saw the young man sighing in exasperation. Crimson’s eyebrow twitched as he wondered what the young man was thinking. However, as he got closer, only a meter away he pushed off his back leg propelled forward as his extended hand turned into a punch aimed straight at the youth’s chest.
Crimson understood this youth was dangerous. Even if his eyes hadn’t made him feel intimidated. It was far too strange for a youth his age to be wandering around this deep into the forest.
Just as his punch was about to land on the youth’s chest Crimson felt a heavy weight on his entire body as he had suddenly been saddled by hundreds of pounds. The youth seemed to slide backwards just out of reach similar to flowing water as light as a feather. A natural and flowing movement even though it was just a few steps. There was nothing profound in his movement and yet he’d managed to move extremely fast despite the seemingly slow movements. His eyes unchanging and the look of amusement still present on his face.
Everyone was suddenly shocked by the turn of events. They’d been surprised to see Crimson attack the random young guy but they were even more surprised to see him dodge Crimson with such ease. Leo especially noticed, he’d been paying attention to the start as he felt something was off about this new guy. What shocked him the most was that he moved so quickly but it wasn’t his body’s strength and it wasn’t some profound movement. He trained in the sword and therefore he trained is body daily. He knew what a body should and shouldn’t do and he didn’t see any of the stranger’s muscles tense the way they should have had he used them to increase his speed.
‘His movement wasn’t profound either… I would have definitely noticed…’ Leo thought to himself as his hand unconsciously moved to the hilt of his sword. Something about this stranger put him on edge in a way nothing else had so far. The closest thing he’d felt to danger similar to this stranger were the imps or the strange woman they’d met.
Even though he couldn’t put his finger on it, Leo was unconsciously touching upon a special ability to sense strength. The creatures that he’d felt danger from were creatures that could attack and kill, except up until now. None of them had specifically made him his target. The imp had been focused on other prey, the woman in the woods had held no ill intent towards him or his group and the stranger in front of them didn’t want to kill anyone if he didn’t have too at the moment.
The sun shining down on them all, the clouds and trees not impeding the light above them in this clearing.
Accompanying that easy and flowing movement of the youth, everyone in the party felt a chill in their hearts. They knew and trusted their leader.
Crimson had been struggling to fight for humanity his entire life. He had led parties through this forest for years now, and he had become strong. Strong enough to be recognized by all of the troops in their city. In the capitol.
However, his punch had just been avoided by this youth with an ease that caused them to hesitate. The moment felt surreal to everyone. If every body wasn’t paying attention to this stranger before, they certainly were now.
Daichi couldn’t help himself from sighing again. Unable to hide his exasperation as he thought ‘Not again. Am I going to have to kill them too?’
Daichi’s mind immediately thought back to a few hours ago.
Daichi had finally gotten out of the mist which had felt like a prison for far too long (regardless of the benefits) and he’d caught wind of some humans with his new mana sense. He’d begun walking toward that direction but his footsteps were unhurried. Daichi was ridiculously excited to finally speak with someone after so long. Although he didn’t know how much time had actually passed since he’d entered the mist as he’d lost track of time he knew it had to have been a very long time.
He’d always thought he didn’t need anyone, he’d always been fine spending time by himself and reading. Daichi allowed his mind to wander in his imagination and spent most of his time learning about things others thought irrelevant but he considered interesting. Due to the way he lived, he really thought he didn’t need anyone but after spending what seemed like an unending amount of time by himself he came to realize how wrong he’d been.
Daichi didn’t go crazy in solitude but he came to appreciate people for what they were. Distractions and helpful bouncing boards. ‘Experiences allow people to further their understanding of the world around them and to form opinions more suited to themselves but any thought or theory hard to further without a differing opinion’
Daichi had realized while theorizing and trying to understand the universe what a key component his experiences interacting with others had been for him. It was their differing opinions, their different way of thinking that really helped him understand himself and come to think some of the things he had.
Naturally after such a long period of time, Daichi had formed quite a few theories and reached a fairly deep level of understanding in the insights he was focused on. Even so, he came to appreciate the time he’d spent with Hannah, Kaden and Ava and realized that their different views had helped push him towards understanding some of the things he had at the time even quicker than he would have by himself. He’d even at one point drawn some inspiration from Hannah’s skill, if he hadn’t it would have taken him so much longer to develop his Chaos Erupts, Chaotic Eruption type skills.
While walking towards the destination of the humans, Daichi thought these things and decided it would be best if he could form a friendly relationship with them. He would benefit far more if he could befriend them than if things took a turn for the worst…
After finally having decided on what he would do, Daichi’s face turned into smiles as he was more than excited to try one of the techniques he’d tried to develop in the mist. Even though he was positive he’d made serious progress into one insight and developed this technique based on that, he hadn’t been able to test his theory in the mist leaving him to wonder how far off the mark he might have actually been.
If someone had been watching Daichi from the outside, they would have been shocked to see a young man suddenly enveloped by light and then take a step forward and seemingly disappear into thin air.