Under a tree, a man and a woman is eating meat. The aroma was appetizing and the smell was very fragrant. With some spices, the man is cooking the meat in curry flavor.
It was red and spicy, just the way the both of them like it.
After being heated and making sure that the meat was tender and edible, the man put some of the curry in a bowl while the woman open another pot which contains rice.
The smell of the rice was sweet and the rice was evenly cooked. Seeing the rice the woman gulped and quickly takes three scoop of rice onto her plate.
Then when the man covered the ground with some cover they put the food on top of the cover and they sit down, looking satisfied.
‘What do you think it would taste like?’ The woman asks.
‘I don’t know Sofia. But it smells good.’ The men and woman was Sofia and Lord Shadow, camping not far away from the stronghold and the beast.
‘Call Badge’ Sofia said, she already could not help but eyeing the dish.
He then called Badge and Badge quickly appears nearby after killing a few apes. Azief put one large bowl with only the meat inside the bowl for his pet while he and Sofia eat the meat with rice.
‘Let’s eat’ Azief said and he began digging his food. The moment he swallow the meat a notification appears.
EATING A UNIQUE MONSTER MEAT
FAME INCREASE: 100
PILLARS OF WATER ACQUIRED: INCREASING ALL ATTRIBUTES IN WATER AND INCREASE WATER ATTRIBUTES ATTACK
‘Whoa’ Sofia was the first one to exclaim.
‘You got the skills?’ Azief asked
‘Yes’ Sofia said.
‘Ironflesh, and a huge boost on my strength‘ she declared
‘What about you?’ she asked
‘The same skill, fame and a new pillar.’ Azief replies grinning
‘That sucks.’ Sofia said sulking
‘I mean it sucks to be me. I didn’t even get a pillar.’
‘Oh, of course.’ Azief said sarcastically.
‘Of course it sucks to be you, right? You got skill just by eating, not to mention boosting your strength, and you didn’t even kill the damn thing. Sure, sucks to be you’
He said, smiling sarcastically.
Then Azief continues.
‘Anyway, just wait until you reach level 30 and eat the meat again. There are still a few slabs of the meat inside my bag of holding. Maybe you will also get pillars then’
‘How’s the food?’ Azief asked
‘Good. Delicious’ she said.
‘The curry sauce (what is kuah in English, any Malaysian could help me with this? Is it gravy, or sauce, or soup?) is balanced in its spiciness and the meat was tender in texture. 5 stars’ she said excitedly.
Azief smiles slightly. Behind him, his pet already finishes eating and is quickly ordered to guard the perimeter again.
After their daring escape from the stronghold, no one seems to chase them.
It seems Hamad really didn’t want to offend him and Sofia so Hamad didn’t send anyone to hunt them.
Anyway the conflict started because of their difference in ideas. A pro-government in a world where government is not yet needed.
To be more accurate, a government that exploits its people. The new Party might as well robbed the people in daylight if their policies are continued.
Of course, Azief understand that if these power is regulated and unified, it might be something worth investing on but nothing is certain in this new world.
And not to mention, the government taking what is rightfully the resources that each individuals made and turn it into some kind of type of control over the masses.
That is unacceptable. At least this time he has the power to refuse such kind of control over him.
In this new world, he will steer his own fate. He will be the captain of his own soul.
Azief could not accept that idea of government even more in this new world. After all, the new world, even though it is brutal and fraught with dangers, it is fair.
You kill something weak, you get inferior items. If you are strong and you could kill a high level monster you could get great items.
If you persevere and endure even in the greatest danger, you will reap the benefits in the end.
The strong and smart survives. And they will be……something. Something that the World Orb wanted. A champion.
The World Orb did not change earth to reshuffle the power of government. That would be too stupid for a force so capable and powerful
What does it cares about human governments?
The World Orb primary objective, in Azief opinion is to make humanity stronger….to face something.
What other reason would the World Orb urge humanity to survive?
Even now, as many danger in the world, the World Orb give us each means to survive and even give great benefit.
Weapons, potions, pills, all magical and is unachievable by human standards. It would take a millennium leap of technology to outmatch the World Orb most primitive standards.
This is why Azief did not hold any grudges when Hamad did not accept his ideas. The same could be said for Hamad.
He did not want to prolong arguments and create enmity when the crux of the conflict is their difference of opinion.
Since they have different opinion, then each one will walk their own path.
Then they finish eating and they just lay around the trees. The wind slowly caresses their body as the surrounding is getting darker, as the sunset began to dim.
Sofia was beside Azief, leaning on the same huge tree and then she asked.
‘So, what is Plan B?’ she ask. She is confident that Azief has another plan. What she didn’t know what that plans entails.
Azief who was closing his eyes in contemplation then open his eyes and in his eyes it seems like that he has made a decision.
He look at the nearby bushes and smirked.
‘Before I tell you, let us ask the person hiding in the bushes nearby to show yourself?’ Azief said and this suddenly brought Sofia to alarm.
Her bows quickly stand at the ready and she got up with fast speed and ready to shoot her arrows.
‘Calm down, Sofia.’ Azief said, still leaning on the huge tree, looking as calm as ever.
Then a bush rustles but there is no one there.
‘Look at the ground’ Azief said in whispering tone to Sofia. The ground was a little soft and Sofia looks at the ground and she was shocked
A footsteps is nearing them….foot print that is created steps by steps but there is nothing in front of them.
‘Invisibility, huh? Neat skill’ Azief said. And then suddenly a child is in front of them appears suddenly.
‘You dispel your invisibility?’ Azief asked, clearly he is not shocked
The child nodded.
‘A child, huh? Now that is hardly appropriate don’t you think?’ Azief said, clearly interested.
‘Now, would you mind to shed your disguise?’ The child smiles. Then he speaks in a foreign language.
This shocks both Azief and Sofia. About this language comprehension, Azief naturally has his own theories.
It seems for whatever reason, even though people speak their tongue, everyone could understand it.
But they still could know that the other person is talking in a foreign language. For example a Chinese talking with a Russian.
Even if both people do not learn the corresponding language they could still understand each other.
But, for example, if the Russian was told to write in Chinese, he would not be able to, because World Orb only alter the sounds to make people understand, like some kind of translation service that is never wrong.
Azief knew the child in front of him speaks a foreign language yet he could understand it.
But he can’t write whatever he is saying. In other words, you have to learn it by yourself or buy the corresponding skill books to write the language.
One might surmise this as good since it clear out miscommunication but Azief clearly didn’t think so.
Studies showed that understanding does not equal peace. On the other hand studies has shown that diversity sometimes keep the peace.
The effort used to destroy other tribes or languages has shown to negatively affect the population instead of making people become closer.
Maybe….and Azief wanted to chuckle at his own thoughts, maybe the more we understand each other, the more we understand the depravity and darkness in each other.
Maybe, the more we understand, the harder it is for us to forgive.
(Google about language and there is a very detailed studies about the correlation between language and conflict and many others)
The child looked at Lord Shadow and smiles a bitter smile.
‘You are very smart. How did you know I wear a disguise?’
‘You must be the man called Thousand Face….. Or are you a woman?’ Saying this Sofia has gripped her bow tighter and she is even more determined to be cautious against this child.
It seems that whoever this child is, this is not his true appearance. The child on the other hand was shocked that Lord Shadow knows his name.
‘How did you know my name?’ the child is clearly shocked as his tone went two pitches higher than usual.
But then another question appeared in the child mind
‘How did you know I was in disguise in the first place?’
Lord Shadow smiles and then he began explaining
‘A lot of guesswork, mostly. Living in this new world, to be making a logical deduction is almost impossible. I usually hate guessing as I prefer fact than guessing. But, when magic are involved, you could understand that I need to have a degree of suspension in disbelief and try to guess with insufficient information about you, your purpose and the reason why you act the way you act. What interest me the most is your motive. Hearing your voice, you’re not from around here. You’re not even my countrymen which make your motives more intriguing. First, the matter of your name. This information is easily gathered.’ Azief said as he began telling the child in front of him how he deduce the child identity
‘I heard in the stronghold when I was entering the stronghold that a few days ago, a man called Thousand Face try to enter but was denied entry. No one would call themselves Thousand Face unless they could change their face.’
‘That’s it? That is flimsy’ the child chuckles. But Azief was not done
‘There is also the fact that your appearance shocked some people and this matter was brought to the top in which the man calling himself Thousand Face disappears. Of course, I almost could not work any information since like you observe, I was not long in there but I picked up some chatter. It was said that the man resembles one of their residents which piqued my interest and give me the idea, that the man named Thousand Face is not naming himself like that for the lulz. Considering that in the list of Unique class, there is one Unique class that is called Transformation Lord, I connect the dot and I have my suspicion. Of course, it was an incomplete theory but when I tell the name to you, your expression betrays your words and my theory is proven. The other one was that I notice you a few days ago and you were observing me. A day you disappeared and then a day later you came back to watching us. Now, that is weird…unless whatever your plan it did not succeed. When I heard about a man denied entry, and then I calculate the distance between my camp and your movement, it was not that hard to solve the puzzle.’
The child is in awe and Sofia has already lower her bow and sits down beside Azief again. It seems only she didn’t realize that this person has been watching them these past few days.
But even though she has lowered her weapon she did not yet stores her weapon. She is still wary even though her expression did not show it.
And she could also faintly feel the superiority oozing from the child body, a pressure resembling that of Azief….but it is fainter, like it was blocked.
Could he even conceal his aura? She mused. This is why she did not completely lower down her guard.
But then the child asked again
‘Even so, how are you sure that I was in disguise? I might as well be a child and possess this ability?’
Hearing this, Azief chuckles.
‘Because that is the face of the child in the fields. The same bone structure….it has a large resemblance with the bone structure of that child. And that smell. Rosemary, is it? I smell that smell on the corpse too. Only at the child corpse not the other bodies.’
Hearing this, the child sniffs his own smell and his smile hardens. Azief on the other hand keep explaining about other facts that he discovered.
‘I always wondered why the killer would scratch the boy face. My conclusion is that there is an unrelated party that also stumbled onto the bodies. What I can’t understand, it’s one thing to disguise yourself as the child, and it’s another to scratch the face of the appearance you take. Then I looked at you and I thought I could understand. It was a simple motive wasn’t it? It was not done for cruelty but simply to act like you are smart. At least that is what I thought initially but then I try to understand the psyche of the man who did this. I honestly could say what you did was tasteless and cruel. But there is nothing in your behaviour that would indicate you to be mentally unstable, neurotic or a cruel man. A bit stalkery but other than that, there is no clear sign of craziness, no bouts of angers, and you are very patient man. All the time, you have observed me and my friends with the utmost patience. But one could say that you are not very smart in hiding your tracks. I attributed this to your misplaced confidence in your skills. Maybe it’s because that you could hide from my divine consciousness that makes you so confident thus you deemed hiding your tracks unnecessary.’ And this time Azief smiles juts got wider.
Hearing this, the child is shocked again. So he even knows I could hide from his divine consciousness. Impressive. Impressive the child inwardly thought.
‘But that act of mutilating the child face….now that’s just sloppy. Seeing that you are not very smart, I could understand why you did that. And conflicted. Well, to survive in this new world, I guess we all have our dark passenger inside ourselves.’
The child ask this time his expression hardens. Then he asked.
‘Why did I do it then?’ The child asked and this time he swipes his face with his hand and his body height and face all changed into a much mature face.
Azief was not shocked and Sofia was also calm. Knowing that the man in front of him could change to someone else …..is not the most craziest thing they both have seen this week.
‘You mutilated the child face because you wanted to use the child face. But mutilating it was not the requirement of your class. Then why?’
Azief said, as he put his hand under his chin and smiled, looking at the man in front of him, piercing him with his stares.
They man did not say anything and his face clearly shows sign of pain. Not physical pain but something deeper.
Then Azief continues.
‘So, I try to think deeper of your action. Maybe it is ritual, maybe it is your signature. And then it got me to think, this is a man very insecure with himself, with a complex with his appearance, thus he chooses the class, and even relishes in the act of mutilating the face. Choosing the class because you want to change your face and by changing your face, you believe you changed yourself. It was not the victim face you tried to erase, it was your face. For why you hate your own appearance…..this I could not deduce. It’s your psychosis….and I don’t know what triggers such violent act. It was involuntary or maybe subconsciously. It was recent….this kind of act. Something happened during the fall. I will not inquire.’
The man shows an appreciative expression. Sofia on the other hand listening to Azief deduction look at Thousand Face with pity. What had happened that he could become like that?
Azief continues his deduction and as he explain thing some things also become clear for him.
‘It was personal…the act of mutilating the face, but not personal for the victim, no, it was personal for you. You….mutilating your own face. Even now, in front of me, you are still using another disguise. That is not your true face.’
Saying this, the man is shocked again. Smart…very smart. This appearance is an appearance he takes from one of Odin guards when he was at Norway.
It’s foreign and it’s not a face that Lord Shadow has ever seen but Lord Shadow is very confident that this is not his true face.
With one glance, all of his skills turn into such tasteless trick.
Such brilliant deduction.
Azief did not want to pursue what he regarded as unfounded guess, so he spoke about what he is confident of and turn the conversation to how Thousand Face came to observe him.
‘Then as you leave the field you went to the stronghold and asked for entry. It must be surprising for the people inside when they see a child without his mother come back especially if he come back alone. The higher ups would be more shocked than surprised since I’m pretty sure that they know the child has already dead. You realize this too didn’t you? When you realize that your appearance attracts much attention you ran and follow us again. For these past few days I let you follow me, because I wanted to know.’
‘To know? To know about what?’ Thousand Face ask. Azief smiles and then looking calmly at Thousand Face he said.
‘Whether you’re an ally, an enemy or a simple passerby. Which one are you?’ Lord Shadow said, still smiling, still calm.
From beginning to end, he set the pace and in a position of power. With information in his mind, he possesses an almost uncanny ability to be in control.
‘Which one do you think I am? An ally, an enemy or a simple passerby? ’ Thousand Face said, turning back this question to Lord Shadow.
Lord Shadow smiles and Sofia look at the man warily.
‘Sit ‘Lord Shadow said.
‘Why?’ And the man grin
‘To determine whether you’re an ally, an enemy or a simple passerby’ Lord Shadow replies, grinning from ear to ear.
The man sit down on the ground as the night began.
‘One question’ the man asked as he sits down on the cold hard ground. He sits in defenseless position and Sofia recognizes this.
She did not interfere the conversation between these two because she did not even know what Azief is planning.
Sometimes she glares at the back of Azief.
Still a part of the story she mused. Too stubborn she inwardly thought
‘Ask away.’ Azief said as he poured cold water onto a cup and handing it to Thousand Face. Thousand Face took it and then take a sip before asking his question.
‘How do you know that the people in the stronghold know about the massacre on the field? And if they know why didn’t they retrieve the body?’
Hearing this Sofia was also jolted.
Yes, come to think of it, how could Azief be so sure that the people in the stronghold knows about the massacre and if they know why didn’t they send anyone to retrieve the bodies?
Azief smiles and did not immediately answers. With one swish of his hand there is a lot of dry firewood and leaves in front of them.
Azief lit a fire as the night is beckoning and then the fire slowly gain strength and the cold night is negated by the warm fire
Now, they are sitting around a fire pit. Sofia is enjoying a carbonated drink while Thousand Face is still drinking from his cup.
Azief wanted do discuss the Plan B but he must first determine that the person in front of him is not dangerous.
Who knows? If he could make this man an ally, their survival rating would go up.
By now, he has formulated a few reasons why the man has been following him but instead of guessing he would like to know it clearly from the man own mouth.
So, they must share.
‘Two generals.’ Azief suddenly said as he sits down.
‘Hearing this, I could deduce that there is a hierarchy in the stronghold and that stronghold is just one of many. And I also heard that there is a headquarters. And right now, it’s a wooden stronghold but if it was given enough time, these stronghold would clearly evolve to better construction. But, I also could deduce that right now, there are factions in this so called Party for Malaysian. Even in mountains, there is only one tiger. The massacre is probably was done from one of the orders of one of the generals. One could argue, one general is good, one general is bad. Why? Because, a conflict of opinion could only happen if the principle they held is different. And if there is faction in this party, then I could deduce that the higher ups in that stronghold are aware of the massacre since some of them would undoubtedly participate in the factional strife. Of course, this is just guesswork…and doesn’t mean that it is entirely correct. But hearing your admission about the reason why you fled, I could confirm these theories. They did know of the massacre and they leave it on the field…..to bait or trap someone. Order from the top. That’s how I know.’
He explains and hearing this Thousand Face and Sofia nodded in agreement. Sofia on the other hand also admits that Azief is really one of a kind.
How could he know these things, only by piecing up together a bunch of scattered information?
Then Azief ask.
‘Now, who are you and where are you from?’ Sofia also looks at the direction of the man.
Now, Azief has explained more than he cares to, and he didn’t even need to but he has extended his courtesy.
He did not have to share every single information or cards he have under his sleeve but he still did…..to some extent.
After all, Azief did not tell the man everything. Azief did not explain how he knows that Thousand Face is following him and he did not explain about the two people on the woods guarding the bodies, nor did he explain about the thing he picked up from the bodies.
Azief still has many secrets. But he shares some of his thoughts, some of his unfounded theories to establish relationships.
A measure of trust…no matter how small needed to be share to establish rapport. The man nodded and then he spoke.
‘My name is Thousand Face. I am from Norway.’ It was curt, it was short and clearly Azief is not satisfied with this kind of explanation.
He wanted information. He wanted to analyze the person in front of him, to soak in every gesture, every eye twitch, and every involuntary movement.
He wanted to know…..so he could survive.
‘Go on.’ Lord Shadow said. Thousand Face sighed.
‘I was chased.’ He said.
‘By whom?’ Lord Shadow asked
‘Odin? Like the Norse God? That Odin?’ Thousand Face bitterly smiles but then he said,
‘No, a man. Nobody knows his real name. He led a band of people under him. When I ran from him, the people under him amount to 500 people. He called himself Odin and a believer of the Old Norse Gods. A pagan.’
He said. Azief notices that there is a cross on his neck…but it was not his cross Azief notices.
It was small and there is a smell of fragrance around it. Perfume. Rosemary. It is that smell. And the man in front of him didn’t fit the profile of a man who would wear perfume.
Thus it belonged to a girl….or a very feminine man. Mostly it belongs to a child considering the design of the necklace and the size of the cross and the width of the necklace.
The perfume too mostly is given to him by someone, probably by the same girl that gives him the cross.
‘There are a lot of pagans in the world, you know?’ Sofia interjected.
‘I know…but there is not much that still worships the Old Gods. This man called Odin is a fervent believer. He even said that the World Orb is a relic of the Old Gods and believe that what happens is Ragnarok.’
‘The Dusk of the Gods’ Azief said smiling.
‘Well, considering what I have experience, what my country has experience, one could understand why he would think that’ Thousand Face said.
‘What do you mean?’ Sofia asked
‘I was at Oslo when the fall first happens. I saw Fenrir, I saw a large tree sprouted out from nothingness, I saw Sleipneir, I saw Jormungand eating thousands of people. I saw all these monsters from legends and myths and so it’s understandable why Odin would believe that this was Ragnarok.’
‘Interesting.’ Lord Shadow said as he keeps nodding. Monster of myths and legends. There is also even prehistoric beast.
This is interesting.
‘What did you do that you had to run?’ Lord Shadow asks.
‘Hmph’ and this time he smiles.
‘Odin likes to sleep with the woman he saved. And considering that he is very powerful, no one really could deny him. Not to mention sometimes there are women who really liked Odin since he is charismatic and all that. I did not really care since he didn’t really bother me. In his group even though I also have Unique class like him, I was level apart from him. I was not a threat and most of the time I became scout for the group so I was useful to him. But unlike his brothers, I was not in his inner circle.’
Azief nodded but he began understanding the man personality as he heard the story
‘What changed?’ and Azief realizes if Thousand Face was this submissive….something changed that made him so angry with Odin.
‘Until one night, he tries to rape a girl.’ Thousand Face said and his facial expression darken and he gritted his teeth.
‘I didn’t think that would be the first time he did that. What changed this time?’ Azief said calmly. Thousand Face nodded.
‘True, it was not the first time but this time he tries to rape a 9 years old kid.’ Hearing this Sofia look in disgust.
She could imagine that this Odin is very much like a beast.
The expression on Azief face was not better. One could see he is very disgusted with that notion.
‘What did you do then?’
‘I fought him. My skill doesn’t give me a lot in offensive power but my stealth? In that group I was the best aside from assassins. When I heard the screams, none of his guard did anything. Not even the group. No one…did anything. Her screams…..bother me so much, that before I knew it, I was dashing through the tents and engage Odin in battle. That beast…..fucking prick’
Hearing this Azief look in admiration. Such righteous attitude is commendable.
‘It was stupid.’ Thousand face said as he remembers his action that led him here. But he did not regret.
‘It is.’ Azief said, yet he smiles. For some reason, he couldn’t hate that idiocy.
‘Azief!’ Sofia glaring at him. Azief did not pay attention to Sofia instead he then said to Thousand Face.
‘Stupid….true, but sometimes, even if you knew what you’re doing is stupid, there are meanings in doing so.’
Thousand Face hearing Lord Shadow words, smiles a little.
‘You don’t think I’m lying? That I’m just making this up?’ Thousand man asked Azief.
‘How do you know? ‘
‘I just know.’ Azief replies clearly confident in his eyes. No pacifying behaviour. No twitching.
No unnatural movement. His eyes did not slant upwards, and his voice is even, his breathing is regular nothing would indicate that he is lying or trying to make up a story.
‘Then what happened?’Azief asked again.
And this time he smiles.
‘I…Hahahaha..’he laughed and then he resume ‘blinded him in one eye.’
‘He likes people calling him Odin? Fine, I will give you one blind eye so you could claim you’re the real Odin’ and remembering it Thousand Face laughed again.
‘And then I cut his dick off. If only you could hear his screams and his facial expression’ and he smiles again.
‘When Odin screams his guard all come running. I ordered the girl to run, grabbed Odin bag of Holding and run amid the snow. For two days the guards chased me until……I jumped down off a cliff. I fortunately did not die. Plundering all the pills and potions inside the Bag of holding I manage to reach level 30. I was even thinking of fighting the guards when I realize that this time Odin was already cured. But still’ and this time he laughed again
‘His blind eye could not recover…..and his dick. You see, I used dagger when I fight. But I also have this one hook. When I fight Odin I used this hook to pull his eyeballs from the sockets. For his dick, I cut it using the dagger. And then I put his eyeballs in my storage rings, his ballsack I throw amid the white snow. Unless he evolved or find some pills that recover lost organs, he would remain blind in one eye and dickless until that moments come. But looking at the entire group chasing me, I made my last bet and come over here.’
Azief was about to laugh but he endures himself but sometimes there is strange sound coming out from his mouth as he tries to stifle his laugh.
‘Using teleportation stone?’ Sofia inferred as she tries to ignore Azief enduring his laugh. Thousand Face shakes his head
‘Crystal’ and he smiles.
‘I heard that in Malaysia there is a hero that managed to kill a Unique Class monster and considering that none of Odin group reached level 30 yet, they could not teleport outside the country. But I can. When I found the crystal inside the bag of holding, I quickly crushed it and arrive at the opposite banks where you defeated the monsters. Since then, I’ve been following you. The other things, you could already deduce, right?’
The other stuff is easy to imagine then.
This also means that everyone knows that he possess the Unique Skill but not many would pursue him since his strength acted as a deterrent.
But for Thousand Face he did not mean harm for him, so his strength did not act as deterrence but instead become an attraction.
Thousand Face wanted his protection. That’s why he teleported here.
Which means, he become level 30 not long after he defeated the monster but his fame is not enough to put him in the top 10.
Which means by the time he become level 30, many other people in the world has become level 30.
Thousand Face also explain that when he broke the crystal stone all the capital nation of the world can be chosen and time slowed down.
But there are certain countries where beside the capital nation the notification windows appeared slightly weird.
MALAYSIA: KUALA LUMPUR
MALAYSIA: PAHANG: TEMERLOH. NEAR THE RIVER [UNIQUE SKILL BOOK: SCALE BODY TECHNIQUE] (ONE MONTH)
This is what he say appear on the places where there is unique skill book. It will only appear where a unique skill book is dropped.
At that time, the only skill book that was dropped is on Malaysia.
The other nation before then did not yet experience drop in Unique skill books. So that’s why Thousand Face choses Malaysia.
But right now, many nations have dropped a few Unique skill books. If Odin wanted to search for him again, Odin must have thought he teleported to one of the nations in the EU instead of in Southeast Asia.
Then smiling Thousand Face asked.
‘So….which one am I, Lord Shadow? An ally, an enemy or a simple passerby?’ And Azief smiles while Sofia keep drinking the coffee beside them