In the middle of a desolate land, there was a man. Around him was countless corpses. Each corpse in a more horrible state than the one before.
If there was something that you could die by, there was a corpse that had done just that. There was even some that died of things that normally would not kill you. Such a horrible sight it was.
The corpses had been piled up in a circle around the man, creating a makeshift wall. Due to the poison that was leaking out of some bodies, and other unmentionable substances, the ground was completely devoid of anything remotely reminiscent of grass.
As long as the eye could see, there was only death.
If one had a discerning eye, they could see the similarities with the corpses littering the ground and the man in the middle of it all. However, that required good imagination and a stomach of steel; the corpses was heavily disfigured and would make even the toughest war veteran unable to bear the sight.
Although he was in such a desolate and gloomy place, the man was full of energy and joy. After finishing one last push-up, he spiritedly jumped up from the ground.
"I did it! I finally made it!" he shouted, while expertly dodging something flashing towards his heart. The object then lodged itself into the corpse wall on the other side. The culprit was a cute bird with a sharp beak.
The man ignored the even as if he had already become accustomed to such sights. Spinning around in a dance of joy, he simultaneously kicked some worm-like beasts that was trying to penetrate his feet from below the ground.
Holding his breath as an almost indiscernible poison cloud passed by, he then let out a deep breath of relief that he was finally done.
"After what felt like innumerable months, and countless of deaths, I finally managed to do twenty push-ups in a row!"
Some time ago, he would be embarrassed of such a statement, but now it made him feel as if he could take on the entire world.
Suddenly he felt weak and started to wobble. Looking down on his hands, he noticed that it seemed as if the poisonous substances on the ground had penetrated his skin.
But he did not feel any despair as the world turned black.
As he opened his eyes once again. To his surprise, there was no corpses in his field of vision. Instead there was a lush forest.
Compared to the earlier environment, it was like heaven. He had almost forgotten that there existed something so beautiful out there.
However, such thoughts were quickly killed. Almost instantly he took a defensive stance. If there was anything that he had learned, it was that the more beautiful and cute something was, the more likely it was trying to kill you.
As he was on his guard, the sole soothing existence in this horrible hell appeared in the air before him. The deity that had summoned him here.
The aura that he emitted was soothing to the soul, making him feel refreshed again. It was the sole reason that he could continue to struggle. Was it not for him, he would have long since given up.
During his hard struggles, he was always there to cheer him on. Teaching him ways to stay alive, and encouraging him.
In the beginning he had been furious that he was summoned here and forced to endure this hell. The first few deaths were maybe endurable, as he had hope to get stronger. But as the causes of death became more and more silly, and more and more painful, he had almost lost it.
Luckily, the god had been there to support him. He had explained why it was necessary. The reason was that... Well, it was very logical and made perfect sense.
During the training he had been told lots of things, and he knew that he could completely trust this god. He had told him that he would be able to succeed despite the despair he felt right then, and he indeed did!
"Congratulations! You have managed to complete the push-ups! However, they were so pathetic that it is way beyond `improvement`... And it took way longer than expected, so let's just skip that part and start with the real training!"
The man was stunned. Did he do all that... for nothing?! Just as he stood there gaping, a snake suddenly burst out from a nearby tree, biting him in the neck.
As he opened his eyes one again, cursing over his carelessness, the god then explained, "The training will start with some easy tracking in the forest."
The man's eyes glew upon hearing the first task. He had been taught by his grandfather, and was quite confident in his skills. And regardless of the earlier mishap with the snake, he had get quite good at avoiding danger.
However, his excitement was quickly suppressed. Start with something `easy`? He shuddered at the thought. Was the push-ups before not even able to reach the `easy` level? Then how could this possible be that easy?!
To confirm his suspicions, the man asked, "The what will I track? Some giant murderous beast with extreme senses, longe range attacks and ability to lay traps?"
No, it was probably even worse than that! Surely even more wicked than he could possibly imagine!
Chuckling at the pessimism from the man, the god then reassured him, "Not at all! We are going easy! The thing you have to track is entirely harmless, it does not even try to hide its tracks."
Kicking some odd stone-like creature that was sneaking up on him, the man suspiciously asked, "That's it?", as there was no way that it was that easy.
"Of course! We are just starting out after all!"
Just as he was about to let out a breath of relief, the nameless man then asked, "Is there anything special about the forest then?" He had learned to be extremely cautious.
"Ah, nothing special at all. Just some normal bewitching man-eating demon trees, and some common camouflaging predators..."
"I see, just normal bewitching... WHAT?!
HOW THE HECK CAN YOU CALL MAN-EATING TREES COMMON!?"
"They are really common, they are all over the place after all..."
Now this was more like what he had expected. Pulling in his hair because of his frustration, he struggled to calm down.
He had managed to clear the last challenge, so he should be able to do this! At least the target would be easy, so it was more like surviving in a hostile jungle...
"Alright then! Let's get this over with!"
With steeled resolve, he faced the trees. He could do this! He could not let down the expectations of the god that trusted him!
"Ah yes. The target you are to track is a, in your definition normal, fly that made its way through here, around four weeks ago."
The man realised that he might have underestimated this task...
"Tracking a fly?! Through a forest that is trying to kill me?! And the fly passed FOUR WEEKS ago?!!!"
"Ah, yes. You are a quick learner. I am so proud!"
Unable to remain composed any longer, the man subconsciously picked up a sword that was conveniently nearby, and run fanatically through the forest. Swinging the sword in beautiful arcs, slashing countless aggressors.
The last thought that kept him from the brink of insanity was that at least the weather was comfortable. Although the sun was barely discernible through the treetops, it was comfortably warm.
Little did he know that there was thick black clouds gathering above the forest...
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