Chapter 4: Don’t feed wild animals, please!
Lots of leaves scattered on the ground, branches piled up and some stones. They were slowly but surely transformed over time into a camp. Now a small rustic cabin, with roof tiles made of tree bark, a simple door made of sticks, walls built of medium-thick logs fitted together like a puzzle stands in the middle of the forest.
So much progress in just one month is impressive. If someone had seen this from afar they would be completely stunned. However, there’s only one witness aware of the existence of this cabin in the clearing, a rather thin young man with black hair and a pleased expression on his face.
“Ahhh! this is nice!”
I sip a flavored herbal and berry infusion as I sit comfortably on my wooden bed.
It’s nothing much, but it’s certainly more robust than the previous one. This time it’s made with carefully carved boards, despite the lack of proper tools, a sharp stone and a lot of patience can go a long way.
I take the small basket made of reeds that contains some food, basic tools, a flint and medicine. I put it on my back and adjust the plant fiber straps a bit tighter on my back for comfort. It’s some sort of primitive backpack.
I pick up a stone-tipped spear in one hand and adjust the knife in my sash. I’m not actually proud of the spear, but my sash has proven to be the most useful. It’s a humble long strip of plant fiber, i wear it around my waist and it’s long enough to circle twice around me. it’s surprisingly sturdy, so much so that i can even use it as a rope in a pinch.
The clothes I was wearing when I arrived at this place are very battered and dirty, which is why I now wear a simple tunic made of plant fiber. Although it can hardly be said that it’s a garment due to my lack of skill in weaving the fiber, but even if it has several holes, it’s still better than going naked into the wild.
I hit the road, but not before taking a look back. I don’t know how long will It take me, but im determined not to come back unless I accomplish my goal.
I’ve managed to improve my living conditions by a lot, but there’s just so much to do and I simply can’t do everything myself.
My old refuge is now a woodshed, keeping firewood dry enough to feed the fire. This was actually a game changer, because i’ve been burning fresh wood and it produces a lot of smoke.
I turned the campfire into a kitchen of the sorts, it’s made of stone and mud. I dont have pots, nor cookware, but it’s a lot better than just cooking in a campfire for more reasons that i can name. It’s safer, consumes less wood, I can grill fish on top of it and It’s easy to keep clean.
A stump that functions as a seat in front of the kitchen and, of course, the cabin. Everything i made is ugly, but functional. Even the cabin is a bit shabby since i made it with logs I chopped down with sticks while training blunt weapons.
It’s kind of counterintuitive that a mere stick could fell a tree, but the thing is... even water can pierce a rock with enough time and perseverance. I’ve been practicing so much blunt damage as a side effect of breaking branches into firewood. So, instead of cutting the trees i’ve been smashing them to pieces. At first it took me a long while, but i get faster and better at it as days go by, my blunt weapons damage is now level 3.
I can’t help but feel proud of everything I’ve achieved since my arrival, but now it’s time to make my way to new experiences.
At first I thought I could survive indefinitely in this place, but firewood is getting scarcer and i’d be forced to fell trees, this may sound like a good idea, but felling a medium sized tree and one of the huge ones is completely different. While i can chop down small trees with sticks and stones, the same cannot be said about those huge trees that surround me.
Those are so big that I’d say four people would have trouble to round them up with their arms together. My analysis skill doesnt even show me their durability, so eventually I will need help in taking care of different chores.
Fish are plentiful but relying solely on them for survival has become annoying. I’ve grown tired of eating roasted fish, It’s not just the flavour, now I even find fishing boring. It’s so time consuming that it makes me feel I’m wasting my time.
Also, I don’t want to admit it, but i do feel lonely. A man cannot live if he’s not in society. So much time alone has taken a toll on me, not having someone to talk to, with whom to share my achievements has been very hard.
It’s not just about how i feel, if day comes when I’m either injured or ill, I’ll have no choice but to surrender to my fate.
That’s something I cannot simply accept!
Falling down alone in the woods in silence, without past memories, with no one to grief over my cold body. Everything about it seems depressing, so i’ll cling to whatever hope I can find. Even if it means leaving everything behind. If I somehow manage to find my way to a town I may be able to find more about my past or my circumstances.
Of all the paths that I’ve explored so far, the only one that I haven’t been able to fully explore is the one from which I came. This is kind of obvious since it took me a while to get here.
All the other paths resulted in dead ends covered in dense vegetation, making me think that this forest may as well be endless. Now that I remember, the road from where I came from... it seemed to have less trees compared to when I am now, perhaps I should have gone the other way when I regained conscience. There’s no point in regreting it now, I picked a choice and I have to stick with it.
Anyway, according to what I’ve seen, this path surrounds the lake, although at a certain distance. This means that at any given time I could’ve gone directly to it, but due to the poor visibility in the forest, I really had no way of knowing there was a lake.
After only a couple hours walking, I reached the starting point. I can recognize the place even though it’s been a month, because trees are beginning to thin out and my field of vision extends a bit further.
My forest, well, the forest where I settled and made my cabin is quite dense, but in here trees are distant to one another, so much so that now i can see far away though there’s not much to see. I’m barely out of my forest and I find myself missing the greenery already
Perhaps it’s due to the distance to the lake, the closer I get to the lake the denser the vegetation becomes and the further I get away from the lake little by little the path opens up.
This probably made it difficult for me to find the lake on the first day, despite being so close.
Achill runs down my spine just remembering my first day, it makes me cringe. Jaw slack, covered in my own drool, barely walking. Fortunately no one saw me in that sorry state.
I’m surprised that I found the strength to walk so far.
My physical condition has improved a lot since then, at first I thought that wood was heavy and that i walked very far away, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve grown stronger, even though my health points have remained the same, I can somehow feel an increase in both my strength and stamina.
If I wanted to, I could trot back to the cabin with no problem, though I haven’t tried. Since I’m all by myself I can’t afford working to exhaustion, what if something happens and I need to escape? so I don’t really know my limits. What i do know is that my stamina runs out at a quicker rate the faster I run and the harder I hit.
Anyway, I’m determined not to go back until I find what I’m looking for.
I would have liked to be able to craft a plant fiber sack, it would be easier for me to gather food as I walk. Sadly, it took me a whole week to weave both my tunic and sash, taking advantage of the slow and peaceful campfire nights. If I kept prolonging my stay in the cabin, I’d probably never get out of that place.
As days went by, weather has become progressively colder. I wonder if I’ll be able to get any cold resistance. So far I haven’t succeeded despite having continuously bathed in the cold water of the lake early in the mornings.
The same goes for heat, my instincts tell me it’s possible to get all sorts of resistance to the elements, but there must be some sort of trick to it and I can’t afford to waste my time unless im certain.
Now i’ve got several different skills, some are combat related like blunt weapons and some are useful like fishing. It’s good to have different skills, but since im always busy in different task, I haven’t been able to focus on improving a single skill, thus all my skill levels are rather low.
It’s already noon and I stop for a moment to grab a bite in the shade of a tree. I take off the basket while I go through my supplies.
Berries, grilled fish, dried fish, mushrooms, nuts.
That’s it, nothing more and nothing less. It’s enough to get by on the road, but I don’t look forward to dinnertime.
I take a piece of grilled fish and eat it listlessly. I’ve been eating fish almost exclusively for two weeks, at this point nothing would make me happier than to change my diet.
I take a sip of water from one of my two precious water cups. I had to make them out of wood, the process of hollowing them out was particularly difficult and I made a lot of mistakes. Using the embers of the campfire I managed to burn the inside of a thick branch, then I proceeded to scrape the burned part little by little with a stone. I finally shaped it and then made a lid. I failed so many times and even after all my efforts I only got two.
The most important thing is to always keep them upright, if they are turned over all the content will spill.
The sound of rustling bushes catches my attention and I jump to my feet immediately. So far I have hardly found any signs of land animals, but I haven’t been able to see any.
I can clearly see where the sound is coming from as the bushes start to rattle.
A medium-sized dog comes out of the bushes. His tail is up but it doesn’t seem aggressive. More than anything it seems curious and stares at me.
Still holding a piece of fish in my hand, I move it in the air and the dog looks at my hand attentively.
“Are you hungry?”
I quickly move my hand with the piece of fish up and down and down and up repeatedly, the dog moves it’s head as if nodding.
“Do you want to hurt me?”
Then I move my hand from right to left and from left to right in the same way and now the dog seems to shake its head.
“Hahaha, what a nice little friend! Here, you earned it” I say as I throw the piece of fish at him and he nimbly catches it in the air.
“Oh! I see that you’re friendly!”
Again a doubt assails me, is it be a new skill acquired or taming progress of this particular animal?
Hopefuly it’s the first case, since I don’t have 100 pieces of fish to spare.
I can imagine myself traveling with a canine companion, traversing from desolate lands to wondrous fantasy landscapes.
A man and his dog defying nature!
It could lie on my feet in the warmth of a campfire, covered with branches in the rain, or running in a sunny field.
The dog turns his head as if he doesn’t understand what is happening. His movement snapped me out of my imagination.
I don’t have much fish, but I don’t mind sharing a little more.
I turn briefly to the basket to grab some more fish. I grab a whole piece of roasted fish and turn to the dog, but this time he’s closer.
I couldn’t even hear him move, while I’m looking at it, it stays still as if it were a statue.
It keeps looking at my hand, this is getting a little dangerous.
I threw the piece of fish right in front of him and he picks it up from the ground immediately devouring it whole.
I use my observation skill
Forest Jackal ??/??
A jackal! This is not good, not good at all.
I’m confident that if things get ugly, I can beat it. After all I have my new spear and my wits, but I wouldn’t want to hurt a potential fellow adventurer.
I’m hoping the percentage shown means I unlocked the skill, after all I have no reason to think it’s taming progress, so far I’ve only gotten such messages when my skills improve.
I backed away slowly, this time without turning my back on him. I pick up the basket from the floor and I take out the last piece of roasted fish that I have left to feed him, while saving dried fish for me since it lasts longer.
Before I can throw it, the jackal flashes its fangs at me and begins to growl lightly. It take a step forward and then back the same distance in a menacing way.
I threw the piece of fish right behind him, but this time instead of going to look for it, the forest jackal pounces on me.
I pick up the basket and my spear, barely able to hold onto one of the two strings I use to put the basket on my back, with my both hands aiming the spear directly at the jackal.
I thrust the spear wildly forward trying to drive it away. This prevents him from running towards me, but it stands it’s ground.
Seems like this fight can’t be avoided, it’s a pity since I could’ve used a pet.
I thrust my spear forward and manage to hit the jackal’s side, although it shows signs of pain, it doesn’t really seem to have received much damage. Trying not to lose the grip on the spear i lost balance, thus making it easier for the jackal to bite my arm.
health 7/10 𝒾n𝒏𝚛𝗲αd. 𝒄om
I must run, I have no chance to win. Even if it stood still it would take me a long time to defeat it. Pain washes over me but I manage to let go.
I run with all my strength without even looking where i’m headed, I can’t think straight, The only thing i can think about is the pain im feeling right now.
Fortunately I had rested and was in excellent condition. My body somehow became a bit lighter, did i level up or something?
No, that’s not it. I don’t know when but I lost my basket.
I no longer hear my pursuer. I turn around and can see the bastard with his head buried in my basket.
“Hey! that’s mine you stupid dog!”
It would be a great opportunity to attack him, but I can’t risk it.
If I had to guess, I’d say we both took the same amount of damage, but considering my max health is only 10, I’d go down before the jackal. I couldn’t see it’s max health but since two interrogation marks appeared next to it, i can only asume it’s max health points are in the 10-99 range, so even if it had 10 health points and I manage to defeat it, i’ll be in poor condition.
It’s best to just give up the basket and return home. There’s only a slight problem, this damned dog is right in my path.
While I was thinking what to do, lt finished eating the contents of the basket and starts chasing me again, it’s very fast.
I run with all my might again, I look everywhere without stopping. There doesn’t seem to be a hiding place, I think about turning and making a last stand fearing that it may attack me from behind any second, but it’s too risky.
I keep running in despair as far as I can, for several minutes at full speed. My body can handle it, yet during my run I couldn’t think of a better solution and I start to get fatigued.
I jump with everything I have left in me to the lowest branch of a tree and climb it. I climb two branches higher, although jackals can’t climb, they can jump and just today I don’t feel like losing a foot.
“Get out of here you stupid dog”
I yell, it responds by twisting his head again, then turns around and disappears into the bushes.
Around me there is only forest, I am not on a path and therefore I cannot orient myself. I don’t know if I ran in a straight line, there’s not much I can do. Fortunately, the backpack will serve to mark the terrain. If i manage to find it, im quite confident i’ll be able to go back to my cabin.
I check my wound, several marked teeth on my forearm, blood trickles down to my free-hanging hand and drips onto the floor.
I have to lift the wound above my heart, that will slow the bleeding. Placing a tourniquet is not a good idea, I haven’t really lost much blood and if I don’t have medical attention, a tourniquet can be a death sentence.
Blood trapped in the limb rapidly loses oxygenation, cells begin to die, and eventually blood becomes infected. At that point, if the tourniquet is dismantled, the entire body becomes poisoned with infected blood, leading to death.
On the other hand, a bandage could help a lot, but without medicine the wound can still get infected. I must wash it and then I will use my sash as a bandage.
I start to climb down the tree one branch at a time, I hear a crack and see a shadow dart out of the bushes jumping quickly in my direction.
I manage to get my feet up just before a powerful bite passes right under my innocent primitive footwear. Taking advantage of the fact that the jackal exposed his position, I use my observation skill.
Forest Jackal 12/15
For some reason, now i can see it’s health points, it may be because now it’s weaker. i’ll take note about this in the future, if some creature doesn’t show it’s health points must mean that im not strong enough to face it. I was right after all! I definitely had no chance against it.
Now there’s no choice, from now on this tree will be my new home.
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