“How’s the food?” A well-built man seated across me said as I filled my mouth with whatever food I could get my hands on.
The food that was arranged in front of me was filled with different pastries that were freshly baked and a huge variety of fruits that seemed to have been gathered within the same forest I was at a few moments ago. I said so because the lady who was seated next to the man was the same lady who found me from the forest.
Apparently, while she was collecting fruits in the forest, she stopped by the pond hoping to gather water too. It was then she noticed me. She then carried me back to her village and immediately contacted whom I assume is the chief of the village. That village chief was the man seated in front of me.
While I was on my way to the chief’s hut, I had a good glance of the village that I was brought into. The village was small, around 10 huts can be seen as I walked towards the chief’s hut. The chief’s hut was placed right in the middle of the village and it was slightly bigger than the rest. The village was also surrounded by a tall fence made out of rough wood, crisscrossed to fend off any potential creatures that would attack the village. There were only two gates, one up north and one at the south of the village, which was the one I walked by.
The huts were cone-shaped and were made out of thin bamboo stems that made out the main structure of the hut. The walls were made out of rough cloth. The only difference from the chief’s hut and the rest other than its size, was the extra red lining around the hut, making it stand out from the rest.
The people in the village were going about their lives, other than the ones that were looking at me with curiosity. There were kids running around playing, elders seated at benches outside their huts and adults doing their work in the village, like cooking, cleaning and some other chores. They wore more or less the same types of clothing I was wearing but with a bit more variety in terms of colour and patterns.
Overall, it was a peaceful looking village. If anything, it put a smile on my exhausted face, knowing that there was a civilized area nearby.
As I entered the hut, the village chief greeted me and insisted I took a quick bath as he noticed the bloodstains on my garments and body. I said bath but it was just a well behind their hut with a bucket. It was then I noticed that because I was barefooted, there were a lot of cuts and bruises under my feet.
As I came out of the bath with new clean clothing provided by him. The shirt was no different than the one I had on previously. The only difference was that I now have a pair of long black pants instead of the uncomfortable felt-like fabric short pants I had on.
As I put on the new clothes and walked back into the hut, I was greeted with food in the middle of their hut. And that led to where I was.
“Er… Y-Yes. Thank you very much, both of you. B-But…”
“Now, now,” the man interrupted as he put up his hand. “I’m sure you have a lot of questions but allow me to start by introducing ourselves My name is Zhou. And this lady here who brought you into our village is my wife, Elka.”
“Nice to meet you.” The lady named Elka said as she bowed her head politely.
The man named Zhou had black hair, with the front shaved off and had the remainder of the hair braided into a long braid. His eyes were brown in colour, same as mine. He looked to be in the middle of his prime age and his body was well-built enough to show that he was capable of protecting himself from any creature coming from the forest. That and also because he had a huge sword attached to his back.
He wore the same garments as the rest of the villagers, with only a slight difference at the sleeve. His was red and green in colour while the others remained brown. Probably to show that he was indeed in charge around here.
For the lady beside him who was introduced as Elka had long curly blonde hair. Unlike the villagers around here who had brown eyes, her eyes were blue in colour. She looked to be in her early prime and when seated next to Zhou, she was half a head shorter than him. While also having the same coloured sleeves on her blouse with her husband, she wore a long black skirt instead of the black pants the man wore. Despite the loose garments, her body was still unexpectedly shapely.
I looked at Elka’s bowed head but didn’t know how to respond. Before I could ask another question, Her husband signalled his wife to raise her head and ended the awkward situation.
“I am the same as you.”
“I too woke up in the middle of nowhere, with the same garments and the same type of sword as yours. I had no recollection of why I was there or who I was. I just want to know you were not alone in a situation like this. People like us, are called ‘Travelers’.”
“People of foreign land. People who suddenly appeared in this world in their mid-teens with no recollection of their past. People who grow differently in terms of knowledge and abilities.”
I sat there with a dumbfounded look. A lot of what he said doesn’t make sense but as dumb as it sounded, I chose to continue listening to his words. For a world that doesn’t make too much sense to me, any answer is better than no answers.
“When you said ‘knowledge and abilities’, how different is it?” I asked Zhou as I continued to stuff myself with the huge variety of food placed in front of me.
“Elka, can you help me and grab ‘one of those’ over for me?”
Elka then nodded and got up from her seat. After giving me yet another gentle bow, she left the hut.
“Before that, is there anything else more important you want to know about?”
“O-Of course! I have so many questions. Like why is it I can’t recognize my own face or any memory of my past before my arrival?”
“Every ‘Traveler’ that woke up had no memories of the past. Along with our past, our memory of our looks, our knowledge and even our names were gone with it. Whatever or whomever that brought us here definitely didn’t want us to have any recollection of our past, but enough knowledge to let us survive.”
What he said made sense. If I couldn’t remember anything of the past, that includes my memory, my face and even my name. But to have my knowledge taken away, that felt a bit off. Like I still know what bread is and look like and what a wolf is and time…
I didn’t know about the time at all.
Distance and volume, I have no knowledge of any form of measurements. Like how long is long or how far is far. Which reminded me that I may have always seen myself in my mid-teens, but I have no idea exactly how old I am.
“So in a way, I don’t have a name?”
“No. We were all nameless when we arrived.”
“Then, how did you get your name? And Elka’s?”
“We ‘Travelers’ have to name ourselves. Oh but Elka is not a ‘Traveler’, she was born in this world and grew up here like every other people.”
“‘This World’? When you said that, are you assuming that we came from another world? How can you be so sure that we are from another world if we had no recollection of the past? Can’t we just so happen to come from this very world but have no recollection of our past?”
“Maybe it’s better if I showed you.”
He got up from his seat and walked over to a desk towards my right. It was then I actually got a proper look around the hut.
The hut may have been the biggest in the village but for a family of two to live in, it was still pretty compact. However, with a single stove in the middle of the hut, a two man-sized bed along with decoration of cloth lining up around the hut, it didn’t feel stuffy at all. Instead, it was airy and super cosy.
I was seated on one of the cushions that were placed around the stove and food. As I looked around the hut, I noticed there was a small opening at the top of the roof. Upon looking at my shadow, I could tell that it was still in the middle of the day. Before I could admire the decorations and weapons around the house, Zhou called out to me as he finally found what he was looking for.
“Ah, there it is. Kid, come here.”
I grabbed another piece of fruit and got up from my seat. I walked towards the desk that was placed at the east side of the hut. What I saw on the desk was a map that I could assume was the geography of the world I was at. However, the moment I saw the map, my head started to hurt, as if it was trying to remember something. For some reason, my mind was telling me that I had seen something like this before.
“It hurts, doesn’t it? You will get used to it eventually.”
“This map… it’s…”
“Familiar? All the ‘Travelers’ felt the same headache and said the same thing when they saw this map. This is the map of the world we are currently leaving in. It is also assumed to be the same layout as the world we came from.”
“Some ‘Travelers’ think we were transported to a different world for a certain reason. While some others believed that we were sent to a different dimension of the same world. Regardless, we are definitely different from every other local people living in this world.”
“And how about the theory that we may be from this world too?”
“You see that fruit on your hand? It looked like an apple, right?”
As I looked at the fruit on my hand, it finally kicked in. Apparently somewhere in my head, I knew what an apple is, but if I recall, an apple was meant to be red or sometimes green. However, the one on my hand was neither of those colours. It was yellow.
“There is no ‘apple’ in this world that is red or green in colour. Same goes for many other fruits, vegetables and other things. Somewhere in our mind, the knowledge we have is different from the world here. And that would mean…”
“That this is not our world.” I said as I continued to examine the ‘apple’ I had taken a bite out of.
After my headache had calmed down, he then pointed somewhere on the map that looked to be where we were.
“The world is split into two continents. Hominum Continent and Daemonium Continent. We are currently in the south-eastern side of the Hominum Continent, a country filled with islands called Tengra. Our village is located somewhere on the peninsula of the country. Well, I don’t expect you to understand this now but the world is indeed huge.”
“This is definitely a lot to take in but thanks for showing me anyways. Though you did say that ‘Travelers’ are different from the locals. How different is different?”
As I finished my sentence, as if right on time, Elka opened the door and walked into the hut. She walked towards me and handed a card over to me. I stood and looked at the card, not knowing what it meant. Zhou realized I was confused and gave me an assurance.
“This is your answer.” He said as he signalled me to accept the card.
I then looked towards Elka and gave her a bow and said my thanks. She gave me a warm smile as I took the card. As soon as I took the card, it began to glow.
The card glowed in yellow light and I could see fragments of light entering the card. The fragments of light slowly laid out on the card, starting from the top right corner and began to form words on the card. The spectacle continued until the light dispersed at the bottom left corner of the card. Even after all that, what was written on the card was still a mystery to me.
“This is a ‘Status Card’. Only a ‘Traveler’ can activate an empty card and turn it into their personal status card. This will be your form of identity when travelling around the world. It is also thanks to this, that we ‘Travelers’ began to understand what our roles were in this world.”
He continued his explanation while he pointed at the words ‘Level’ on my card.
“Levels are your overall current strength as a ‘Traveler’. Higher levels allow you to receive more skill points. Which brings me to “Skills”. Skills are abilities that you know. For example, now you have <Sword Wield E> and <Survival E>. The <Sword Wield> skill is the ability and knowledge to wield a sword while the <Survival> skill is the ability to fight against fatigue and fear in the midst of battle.”
“And the ‘E’?”
“That would be the ranking of your skills. E is for beginners, then there is D, C, B, A and higher. The higher the ranking of your skills are, the stronger you are at these skills. And to get a higher ranking is to train them.”
“I don’t get it but okay? Then, is there a way to earn more skills?”
“Of course! To earn more skills is to basically experience more things! For example, to receive the <Axe Wield> skill, you just have to use an axe in a battle to unlock the skill. And to receive the <Fire Magic> skill, you just have to use fire magic. However, you need to use skill points to unlock those skills to actually enable them…”
“Oh? Did I not mention that part? Magic exists in this world. The ability to channel mana stored within oneself and to unleash them.”
Magic. The word sounded familiar as if once again it sounded like something from my past life. However, I was yet again remembering nothing but only the familiarity of the word alone.
“The ability to channel magic, huh? Oh, apparently I am already ‘Level 2’.”
“Must have been from that Demon Wolf you fought just now. I have to hand it to you though. You just got here and you managed to defend yourself from an actual demon. Pretty strong, aren’t ya? Anyways, which means you have received some skill points to earn yourself more skills. Go ahead, check what skills you have unlocked.”
“Oh. Alright. Where do I check my available skills… Wait. Demons?”
Before I could receive my answer. I heard someone running towards the hut. Before I could turn my head to the door, a young man who seemed to be their gatekeeper sprung open the door. He was sweating profusely as he called out for his chief.
“Chief! Our scout team successfully found the pack of demon wolves in the forest!”
“I see. I was wondering why this kid only encountered one of them. These bastards always move in packs.” He said as he dashed towards the gatekeeper. He raised his right hand and grabbed onto the grip of the sword that was attached to his back, feeling its weight and making sure that it was by his side.
“That’s not all, chief.”
“There is another one.”
The gatekeeper said as he looked towards me. Zhou followed after and they stood there for a while, as if they were communicating telepathically. Soon after that, the chief smiled and looked at me as he reached towards the door, preparing to leave.
“Come with me, kid.”
“What? Me? Why?”
“It seems like you aren’t the only ‘Traveler’ to end up in this village today.”