The instant the silver ball of light entered Luke’s chest, he staggered. He held onto a wooden chair next to him to keep his balance. This all still felt very unrealistic to him. His head started pulsating, as if following the rhythm of his heartbeat.
‘Augh.. I feel like my head is going to explode…’
His head stopped pulsating after a few minutes, but he could now feel a strange sensation coming from his chest. Luke completely regained his balance and stopped holding onto the chair. He unbuttoned his shirt, and spotted something very strange.
‘What is this weird symbol? It looks like a tattoo…’
Luke touched the left side of his chest, right where his heart was. There was now a small, strange tattoo-like symbol residing there. It looked like a silver hourglass with blue sand on the inside, but what was really strange is that the blue sand was actually flowing down, almost unnoticeably.
‘Could this be that elemental that the old man mentioned? I mean, some weird light did float above his corpse just as he died, before entering me.’
He buttoned his shirt back up, and started thinking about what to do next.
‘Since it’s night already, I’ll just try to rest here for the time being, but I at least need to move that old man’s corpse somewhere else first. It stinks.’
Luke approached the old man’s corpse, and lifted it up. The corpse was heavier than he thought. Feeling nauseated already, he started thinking.
‘Maybe I can just incinerate the corpse? That fireplace is pretty big…’
Luke immediately scrapped that idea. The smell of a corpse burning would surely not be any pleasant.
‘…I’ll take it outside.’
Luke made his way to the door, and opened it. It was pitch dark outside, prompting him to grab a lantern from the house. He attached the lantern to his belt. When he stepped outside, eerie noises came from all around him. He could hear some screeches as well, reminding him of the bird-like Gleem monsters that almost killed him.
‘I just hope I don’t run into any of those weird creatures’
Luke started walking, carrying the old man’s corpse bridal style.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Luke walked for a few minutes, but he had to come to a stop.
‘What the hell is that thing?!’
His pupils started shaking, and his arms went limp, dropping the old man’s corpse in the process.
He was shaking out of fear in front of an overwhelming presence.
He could make out a shape in front of him, of a creature that looked oddly similar yet different to the bird-like Gleem monsters that he had ran away from earlier. The problem was, even though there was just one monster, it was at least ten times larger than the Gleem monsters Luke had previously seen, even surpassing the size of two elephants combined.
The creature directed its blazing red glare at Luke. It had obviously heard the old man’s corpse hit the ground. Luke’s shaking eyes couldn’t even cope with the pressure, causing him to look down at the ground below. It was then that a faint breeze blew by his ear.
A creepy whisper sounded next to him, even though the creature still hasn’t made its move yet. A small whirlwind started gathering below Luke’s feet, and started lifting him into the air. Luke belatedly realized what was happening and tried escaping by swinging his body around.
That’s when the wind that was surrounding him started whispering again, making fun of his weakness.
“Futile. Weak. Useless. Give up.”
The whirlwind carried Luke to the creature’s beak, that was slightly opened. Luke was powerless to do anything. Even the old man’s corpse he was supposed to get rid off was brought to the inside of the beak alongside him.
The inside of the beak was even darker than the forest outside. The only source of light was the lantern that Luke had brought along with him. Luke could tell that the giant creature had started moving. His fate was now in someone else’s grasp.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
After an unknown amount of time passed by, Luke felt the giant creature come to a stop. It slowly opened it’s beak. What Luke saw next made him shudder. He could see the silhouettes of dozens, if not hundreds of Gleem monsters below him. His mind shifted into 6th gear and started racing.
‘Don’t tell me… When this creature said “Dinner”, it couldn’t have possibly meant…’
As if to confirm his doubts, the Gleems started screeching loudly, as if excited for the return of the giant creature. A whirlwind surrounded the old man’s corpse first, and it was slowly brought down to the Gleems. The Gleems started leaping upwards, as if wanting to greedily swallow the corpse whole. The whirlwind dissipated and the corpse hit the ground below. It was devoured in no time at all, not leaving even the old man’s silver robe behind.
Luke gulped. A whirlwind started surrounding him next. He began panicking.
‘No, no, no, this can’t be happening! I’m not gonna die in such a way! This is simply not happening!’
As if to deny reality, Luke started thrashing around. This only made him recall the whispers from before yet again.
Maybe it was futile.
Maybe he was weak.
Maybe thrashing around like this really was useless as well.
But he won’t just stay still and let some shitty monsters eat him alive.
Shattering his newfound resolve, the whirlwind started lifting him up, and brought him outside of the beak and towards the starving Gleems. Luke looked at the bird-like creatures leaping towards him, feeling as if he was simply a lure on a fishing rod.
The whirlwind dissipated and he started violently falling towards the Gleems.
Luke closed his eyes.
‘If only I were stronger. I’ll train harder if I ever get a second chance.’
Luke smirked, as if finding his thoughts funny. There will be no second chance.
Luke felt something stab into his right leg, then into his left arm.
Luke started shouting out in pain.
Then the razor sharp beaks stabbed into his stomach, his back, his chest.
Luke was screaming. He was being eaten alive piece by piece. His muscles were being torn apart, strand by strand, his innards being taken around for a spin, as if someone was eating noodles, using his stomach acid as the sauce.
How long passed by like this?
Luke’s heart stopped beating.
He was dead.
Suddenly, the hourglass tattoo on the remains of his chest started shining brightly in a blue hue and flipped upside down, causing the blue sand to start flowing in reverse. Something was happening.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Luke slowly opened his eyes. He was laying on the floor, his eyes devoid of light. He was processing what he thought was a bad dream.
He panted loudly and slowly sat up. He looked around him. What he saw first was a wooden table and the wooden chairs, along with an old man’s corpse strewn across the floor.
Luke realized that what just happened couldn’t have been a dream. It was as real as this tiny brick house and as real as this strange new world.
The pain that he just went through should never be felt by a living human.
Luke’s dark brown eyes then regained their lost spark and began shining in a blue hue. He steeled his resolve and made a declaration.
“I will get stronger and slaughter that bird bastard. No matter what.”