Stab the eyes. Deflect the claws. Breaking Blade upwards to bisect the body. Rummage through the brain for a beast core. Store it in my bag. Inscribe a rune of strength on the skull. Consume the bone of strength. Forget all feelings of hunger and exhaustion. Store the corpse. Move on.
Stab more eyes. Deflect more claws. Breaking Blade sideways to cut off all escapes. Chase after the beast core that was sent flying. Inscribe a rune of speed on the tail. Consume the bone of speed. Dismantle all the corpses gathered so far. Inscribe runes of focus. Lie down and contemplate life for three seconds. Back to work.
“Gah! I want to bathe!” Of course, no one heard my shout. Probably. I’ve gotten extremely good at inscribing runes, and I can do it quickly and efficiently nonstop by consuming bones of strength and speed. A side effect of the bones of strength was decreased exhaustion and decreased hunger and a little recovery of qi. Bones of speed have to be taken with bones of perception or else my mind won’t keep up with my body. Bones of focus can be stacked to extend the time limit, so I’ll never be distracted like I would be if there was a small window between one effect and the other.
And thus, I haven’t eaten, slept, or bathed in half a year. Gross, right? I smell worse than the morning breath of a vulture. I always thought vultures were desert creatures, but apparently they’re like upgraded forms of scavenger crows. There’s a lot of them in the southern pass, and you can always tell when something’s on the verge of death because they gather in the sky like a really loud cloud.
“Help! Save me!”
Speaking of death. It’s time to kill some more scavenger crows now that I’m done strapping bones to myself. You can barely see the dress that I took from Snow underneath all my consumable bones. Not like anyone would want to. It used to be white—it’s dark red now. Scavenger crow, scavenger crow, here to give me his skull.
“P-please! I have money!”
There it is…? The heck? An actual person? …I wonder how many runes I can inscribe on his bones. How many ribs does a human have? I know there’s at least three. Ah, he’s being chased by a bear. Bears are great materials for bones of strength. Let’s kill it. “Flying Qi Blade!”
The man’s eyes widened as the bear stopped moving and split apart in front of him. “S-saved…” He turned around. “Thank—”
Rummage through the brain. Whistle a tune for good luck. Eh? No beast core. What a rip off! Kick its head off, Lucia! Wait, don’t. Then you’ll have to chase the skull. Haaah. Why are bears so large? They’re too bulky to transport around. Dismantle it here then, but first, shoot the vultures out of the sky. Stupid birds. I’m not jealous of your intelligence anymore, not with these focus bones!
Oh, right. There was a person, wasn’t there?
“Gah! Please don’t kill me!”
How rude! I just saved your ass. “Shut up.”
What was he? Only mercenaries would go this deep into the southern pass. Why was he dressed like a pansy? “What are you?”
“What am I? A, a human…?”
“Stupid! What do you do for a living!?” Did I mention irritability was a side effect of bones of strength? Maybe it’s a side effect of the side effect of not sleeping or eating for half a year.
“I’m, I’m a merchant!”
Gross. Don’t pee yourself. …Am I as imposing as Durandal? That’s amazing! F***. Why was I reminded of Durandal? Stupid, Snow. I’ll kill you. Thankfully, these bones of focus let me dismantle a bear, hold a pleasant conversation with a merchant, and think peaceful thoughts about my once-companion all at the same time. I wonder if I’m becoming too reliant on them. …Nah. “Merchant?”
“I … sell things?”
“Idiot! I know what a merchant is! Why are you in the southern pass?” Halfway done with the bear.
“I heard there was a gold mine discovered here…, so I hired a convoy and searched for it. Everyone died except for me.”
“…How did the weakest person survive?” That doesn’t make any sense.
“We were ambushed by a giant snake. After it ate everyone but me, it laughed at me before curling up and going to sleep…. I still can’t believe it.”
“It’s because you’re not worth spending time on digesting.” Just a few more runes to carve. Why do bears have so many bones? Have less bones in your next life, please and thank you, bear.
“T-the bear meat. Are you just going to leave it there? Don’t you know how expensive their bodies are? You can easily sell a bear penis for ten gold!”
“…The penis?” I’m not going to collect animal penises!
“Nobles eat them for invigoration! Ah, of course, the organs can also be sold. A heart for five gold, liver for three, kidneys for three each, lungs for two.” The merchant’s eyes sparkled. They were awfully shiny for someone who almost died a few minutes ago. “The bones are worth even more, but I see you can already use them. H-how about this? Escort me back, and I’ll help you sell everything! You don’t have an interspacial ring, right? That’s why you’re carrying the bag around?”
There was a plain-looking ring on the merchant’s finger. Interspacial ring? “You have one?”
“No! But you can buy a lot if you sell all those bones you’re carrying around! What do you say? Help me out of the forest, and I’ll help you make gold. I even have connections with the types of people who sell interspacial rings.”
“Not interested.” I have to get stronger to wake Durandal up! I don’t have time to spend on shopping!
“Please! Don’t go! I have a wife and child waiting for me to return home!”
Scavenger crow? Oh, no. Just the same merchant. Tsk. Maybe he’s a scavenger crow morphed into a human? I should check his brain for a beast core….
“Hiih! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Please don’t kill me!”
Well, if he were a crow, he would’ve tried to fly away. I totally didn’t try to kill him or anything just now. It was only a test. Mhm. Back to hunting! I’ve already consumed enough scavenger crow, shadow panther, and moonlight wolf beast cores, so they don’t increase my attributes anymore, but I can move on to fat bears, hard crocodiles, and ugly vultures! Those aren’t their actual names by the way. Snow’s not around anymore to be my encyclopedia, so I named them myself.
Ah, the grind really never ends.