Damian returned from the prison and made his last goodbye to his family, he lit what was left of the mansion like the vikings burned their dead on a boat using fire arrows.
He hadn found his mother and two twin brothers bodies, and couldn give them a proper burial, so he used this met ode to give them the closest thing to it.
After the burial ceremony by fire he started thinking about his future plans, he wanted revenge, but he knew he wasn strong enough for it yet, so he concluded that for his revenge what he needed was to gain more power, the power to go against a whole empire.
The emperor may have been scared of the Salvatore clan, but he wasn weak himself, he was almost an 8-star user.
The Salvatore family was becoming as powerful as the emperors forces, and he felt that they endangered his position, the Salvatore family however had no view of the throne or on the emperors territories.
The Salvatores only wish was to protect the country and any member that had a view on power was immediately excommunicated for treason, this was something kept hidden from others as it would smear their reputation.
The family members concerned were forbidden from talking about their excommunication to others by using a vow on their life that would instantly kill them, ever talk about it.
The emperor himself kept an important secret, the fact that the Salvatore family was a minor branch of the imperial family that decided to cut all ties to politics around a thousand years ago.
The emperor thought about the possibility of the Salvatore clan claiming the imperial reign by justifying themself as rightful on the throne if they ever discovered this forgotten part of history.
Damian decided to go to the Willow forest that was a few kilometers away from the mansion, he had to go through the Diaro village that was the only village in the tens of kilometers radius around the mansion. It provided the food served for the diners and was part of the Salvatore lands.
The Salvatore mansion had been constructed in a strategic point for their main occupation, demon hunting, as a result it had been constructed in the middle of nowhere.
Damian entered the village that was completely burnt down, it was now only a memory of its past self, it had been burnt completely as the average peoples houses were excessively made of burnable materials.
Damian was not surprised at all when he entered the village, as he had discovered its state a month ago when he had gone there to find food when he was still searching for the underground prison.
The villagers had all perished ever from being burnt alive or slaughtered. They had speared nobody in the process killing man, woman, children and elderly.
It was most likely the work of the royal knights, they must have been trying to erase anything and anyone that could possibly reveal their involvement in the attack.
When Damian had discovered that, he had been enraged, but now he only felt a little sadness while looking at the burnt habitations. The reason behind that was the three rune marks he had acquired, they regulated his feelings.
Thankfully, the knights had not burned the crops as they thought, having killed everyone in the surrounding of the Salvatore clan. Damian had fed on the crops that had not been harvested, like corn and wheat.
He walked through the village and arrived In front of the Willow forest, a deep and dark place where only a few crazy people and lumberjacks entered. The wood cutters that went to the forest only entered up to 10 meters inside of it, as it was said to be hunted and full of terrifying monsters.
To reinforce the hunted stories was the fact that the trees that were cut down grew back as if they were nether cut when the lumberjack left and re-entered the forest.
For the habitants of Diaro the forest was like the plague itself but from Damians current point of view it could be a blessing in disguise, he could use the forest in order to train himself.
He was confident that he could survive in the forest as others before had, though most of them had lost any trace of sanity, so they couldn exactly be trusted when talking about what had happened to them deep into the woods and if the monsters they described really lived there.
Damian entered the forest and as he was approximately 10 meter deep in the forest he stopped, looked around, took a deep breath and entered even deeper.
To his surprise he didn encounter any monster or deadly traps after walking for an hour straight, he was getting more and more anxious and was very tired as he had been on alert using a technique called aura sense for the whole time.
Aura sense is a technique that channels the users mana from his mana reserve to outside his body in the form of aura, sending it in a circular zone around it to the user, the area of detection of aura sense can be widened by sending mana farther.
But as he was starting to rethink his choice to adventure this far he finally detected 10 moving shapes coming his way from all sides, his mana was almost depleted, and he felt very heavy from it.
He started laughing like a mad man at the situation as the monsters arrived only when he had used most of his mana. Whats life if there is no action? Lets just act with the flow of things, it will only endanger me if I think negatively in this situation. " Come at me, you fools! I will teach you what it means to be a predator." he shouted with all his might.
He stopped his mana sense and jumped 6 meters in the air by sending half of the mana he had in his legs, dodging the 10 wolf-like low demons. They were of dark blue shades, had 6 legs and several tooth rows fit into each other like the mouth of an octopus.
The monster collided with each other and while they were still stunned, Damian sent 2 aura attacks that were in the shape of blades at the beasts, leaving him with only around 5 percent of his total mana reserve.
It was the technique of aura blade, where you swing your sword wrapped in aura and send blades of aura to your target from afar.
The smoke deseped and to his surprise the demons were still alive and well, taking advantage of his surprise they jumped at him while he was still in the air so that he couldn dodge. Damian guarded himself using his two swords and was flung 10 meters away, crashing onto a tree.
Am I really dying here and now, what a joke. he said to himself while coughing blood. He got back up using the tree and his two swords as support and used the last mana he had to create an illusion.
The monsters thought they saw him climbing the tree, and he used this opportunity to escape. He left the zone of the demons and the illusion desepired, leaving the demons that were trying to go up the tree confused, falling into a moment of daze because their weak minds could simply not comprehend the situation.
Damian had forced himself to run even though he had a few broken ribs and his left arm bones were in pieces, thankfully he had an unbelievable resistance to pain, and he could run without too much difficulty.
He could clearly feel he was quickly losing blood and that his ribs were starting to pierce his skin, but he didn stop running.
The beasts quickly regained their senses and started searching for their preys scent. It took them some time as they first scented the smell of a demonic being from his blood, only by concentrating their senses did they feel a faint smell of human and started tracking him at a slow pace.
Damian was now more Demon than he was human. It took the monsters a long time to get him in their sight by tracing his feeble human scent in all the other demon scents that lived in the forest.
He was still running, and he finally felt the bloodlust of the 10 demons directed at him as they took speed and were coming closer and closer to him. The humans had developed a similar technique using aura by mimicking the demons, that they called bloodlust. It is a technique where the user must produce a burst of aura directed at their target.
The combined blood lusts of the beasts were enough to freeze any 4-star. Surprisingly, Damian was able to move using the will and mental resistance he had acquired in the process of his reincarnation.
Nevertheless, he wasn fine at all and was forced to slow down more and more from the mental load of the combined blood lusts.
The wolf-like demons were getting closer to the struggling Damian by the second, anyone looking at the scene would have surely thought the beasts were already imagining themselves feasting on Damian just by looking at their faces.
Surprisingly, Damian didn seem scared or desperate at all, as he had a big smile on his face. "You beasts don seem very smart, do you? It took you some time to find me, you
e quite slow for wolves." The monster could not understand his regressing words, but they could feel the malice in them, and they seemed eager even more.
Anyone would have said that he was crazy by enraging the beasts, they would be partially right, after his change in personality he had lost almost any notion of the scare of death and felt a thrill in dangerous situations as he was now more demon than he was human.
Lastly, there was a reason why he could have the luxury of enjoying the chase, he had a trump card, the fast regeneration ability of the demons. During the time he was running he was actually healing at a fast rate, the injuries he had suffered were deadly, and he knew that without the faster regeneration he would have surely died.
He waited for the beasts to get approximately 5 meters close to him, only then did he stop faking his state of injury and took speed, surprising his pursuers.
Using the newly created surprise, he changed direction without losing too much ground to the monsters and sent them in the wrong direction, as they were too fast and couldn turn so suddenly at a 70 degrees angle.
He jumped above a bush and an 80 meters tall waterfall appeared in front of his eyes, entering the ground with a thunderous noise. Damian didn wait for the demon to catch up with him, and quickly leapt into the rushing waterfall.
He had not been running without a goal, from the beginning he had been running in the direction of a waterfall that he had spotted while he jumped in the air to avoid the beasts. He had spotted it thanks to his sight being strongly enhanced by the 3thrd demons power.
Damian was now free-falling onto the river at the bottom of the waterfall, he tried stabilizing himself using the technique he saw parachutists use in a documentary on extreme sports back in the US.
He expanded his arms and legs and tried equally spacing them, so his body had more exposure to the air creating friction, resulting in him slowing down his fall by a little.
He knew he wasn some flying squirrel and that he could completely ignore the damage from the fall, his goal was to limit his chances of death.
The water was getting closer and closer to Damian by the second, he had been falling for 5 seconds and was approximately 10 meter away from the water, Damian changed position to a diving position. He straightened his body and contracted all his muscles, so he entered the water at a perfect 90 degrees.
Using this both positions while falling he had minimized his possible injuries, finally he entered the water and a loud noise could be heard 100 meters away reverberating against the waterfall.
Damian had broken a few more bones, but he was mostly fine if you compared his condition to anyone that would attempt the same thing as he just did.
Unluckily he wasn safe from death as the river in which he had fallen had a very strong current, and he was now struggling to keep his head out of the water.
Thankfully the rivers current was calming down as he got more and more far to the waterfall, until it was so calm one could have nether guessed it was like a raging dragon only a few minutes ago.
Since the water had calmed, Damian had succeeded reaching ground once more and was laughing dementially on his back.
He just had the thrill of his life and was almost going to bite his own tongue from laughter, but he quickly regained his calm as he knew that he had arrived in an unknown environment. He needed to carefully and quickly understand more about where he was and make decisions accordingly if he wanted to survive.
Just as he got up he heard a deep voice filled with wisdom and royalty, "child what exactly are you?, I can see through your soul, and you are neither demon nor humane. You are indeed interesting." The voice seemed intrigued as it looked through Damian and uncovered his deepest secrets, as if he was simply a glass panel.
Damian could not locate the source of the voice, but he was sure that the owner of such a voice could only be a truly powerful being. He knew one wrong world could prove deadly when facing such a powerful character, so he responded accordingly.
"Honorable elder, I am sorry if I have disturbed you in any way as it was not my intention, it was forced on me by the way the events unfolded." He responded as he bowed in a 90 degrees angle in the direction he was facing, while making sure his voice sounded filled with respect.
"I see that you truly have the tongue of the demons, trying to sweet talk yourself out of the situation, are you? Do not be alarmed for I am the protector of the forest and I couldn care less about you being here, after all you are but a fly in front of my eyes." The voice answered him in a majestic manner.
The fact that he had been seen through did not please Damian, but he continued speaking the same way as he was confident it was the best way to proceed. "Could the great protector of the forest enlighten this lost soul with the way out, as this unworthy servant does not deserve to stand on the elders lands."
"Are you sure you want to leave, child? You should know that you have two options to choose from, I can let you leave, or you can stay here for one year and attempt to pass my test. If you successfully pass it, you will then receive the heart of the forest as a reward. Before choosing, you should know that countless have come to the forest and have attempted the trial, only to fail pitifully. Falling into either craziness or death, now…choose!" the protector explained to Damian.
Damian knew that the Protector wouldn be lying to him and that he truly only had two ways out, the hard way and the easy way, but it is told that gain doesn come without any pain. He knew that he had to choose the hard way, even if he had to accomplish an impossible feat in order to become stronger.
Even without knowing what was the heart of the forest, he could know that it must be a truly important thing that could help him in the future, so he did not feel the need to ask the protector what it was exactly.
"I would like to attempt the test that the venerable protector has put in place, as I desperately need more power and would stop at nothing to attain my goal." If Damian had been standing straight, one could have seen a face full of determination as he answered the protectors question.
"As expected of you, you seem to be truly decided, I did not expect less of you. I was watching you from the moment you entered the forest and was captivated by the ingenuity you used against the 10 Tiangos. You will have to survive in this place for one year, only after one year will you be allowed to come find me. Now let the trial begin." The protector of the forest said in a pleased tone.
Damian could feel the protectors presence leave the area and was now allown ones more, he felt that the protector of the forest did not tell him everything on the matter of the trial, but it was no use thinking about it as he could not guess what was a twist with the little information he had.
He started moving from the river as he wanted to find a good spot where he had access to the river for a water source and could have a shelter against the rain and to be able to sleep peacefully at night knowing animals wouldn kill him.
Suddenly, he felt a pain in his nose that disappeared in an instant as if nothing had happened in an instant. He didn feel any different from before…no, he could smell anything anymore.
Only now that he had lost his smell could he tell the air wasn odorless as he fought, while he was not knowingly smelling things in the air there was always a bit of scent that his brain did not register.
Damian felt as if he was in a void as he couldn smell anything anymore, however he was not very worried about his situation as smell wasn a very important sense compared to the over 4. He emptied his mind of those useless thoughts and entered the luxuriant jungle.
[[Author note: check in the comments to see a picture of a Tiango ]]