The silent forest was a well known dangerous zone among everyone in the nearby cities. It boasts a frightening landscape that would scare off anyone thinking of going inside it.
Presently, not even a single movement could be seen within it. From a faraway perspective, it was as if the land was frozen in time.
However, on one decaying tree, a small black snake peeked out from the tiny hole in one of its branches.
Slowly, its head looked around the surrounding areas as its tongue repeatedly flickered out. If one were to look closer, its slitted eyes shone with intelligence, glancing around, surveying the outside world.
Finally, after making sure there weren’t any visible threats around, it slowly slithered out, smoothly using its body to climb up the long branch.
Reaching the far end of it, it looked down on the distant region, searching for any signs of danger. Unusually, its tongue continuously flickered out as if it was playing with it.
The snake moved its head around before it returned, silently slithering back to its hole. Not long after, a bird’s head peeked out of the same hole.
As soon as its head was exposed, it jumped out to the nearest stand, flapping its wings and flew away.
If someone were to look into the hole, they would quickly discover that this seemingly tiny hole had no more signs of snakes inside it.
Max flapped his wings fast enough to flow through the sky smoothly. Since this wasn’t the first time he transformed into a bird, he didn’t find it challenging to fly using his small light wings.
A while ago, when Max saw a large group of bats making their way over his location, he didn’t hesitate to run away.
Being familiar with them, it didn’t take him long to know that they were the same bats that he watched before traveling to this place.
Max had no idea why they were flying over to his position; hence, to be safe, he disregarded the man he was battling and quickly went towards the other direction, not wanting to be surrounded by them.
What he didn’t expect was they were too many of them at one spot that they almost filled the entire area, which left him tiny room for escape.
Instantly reacting to the situation, Max transformed into a tiny snake that could slide into one of the holes on the tree branches nearby.
The small holes were connected to each other inside and could not fit a creature the size of the bats, which made it the ideal hiding spot for him.
Max had some knowledge of how bats work and how they search for their prey and even map out their surroundings.
Taking all of this into consideration, Max could only hide inside a tree to avoid being detected.
Initially, he wanted to find a hole to burrow himself in as it was more comfortable, and he won’t have to transform into a tiny creature.
However, Max did not expect the bats to move so fast, and with their large numbers, Max feared that they could quickly find him and corner him in a dangerous situation.
To prevent this from happening, he could only rely on the holes on the dead trees for shelter. When he thought that there might be some small predators living inside those trees, Max shapeshifted into a snake.
A snake would still have an ability to defend itself against other small creatures. Its jet black colored body was meant to send a message and deter others from having any thoughts about it, and its slitted glowing green eyes was for it to look terrifying.
Fortunately, after hiding himself in the dark hole, Max found no one occupying the small space with him.
With the assurance of a cozy shelter, Max then waited for the shrill noises to disappear before deciding to peek out to scout for their positions.
Based on where the noises come from, Max estimated that the bats were not anywhere close to him.
Until now, Max was still uncertain whether they were targeting him or he was only unlucky to be in the middle of their gathering location.
But it wasn’t relevant anymore. Max had now encountered the creatures he traveled from afar for.
After flying for a long distance, Max finally got out of the withering forest. Since he stayed high up in the sky, he didn’t meet with any bats on his way out.
Now what he had to do was to find a safe location and meet with Yu’er and Xue. Thanks to his Inventory, Max could transform without having to worry about where to hide his possessions.
On another side of the withering forest, one man was surrounded by a high number of blood-sucking bats.
The bats flew chaotically, taking up the entire area around the man while letting out their loud noises, sending out shattering vibrations in the air.
Surprisingly, the force behind the cries that was enough to hurt an ordinary person never seemed to have an effect on the man.
Smiling Death quietly dusted off the dirt on his clothes. His mind was resentful about his target escaping. He didn’t even get to have his fun. What was worse was their last exchange was him being thrown out like a useless object.
Nothing else could describe what he was feeling right now, his mind only thought about revenge for the humiliation he received.
Unfortunately, at this time, Max had long been gone out of sight. Smiling Death had no way of locating him.
When Smiling Death tried to recall Max’s appearance, he almost wanted to hit his head on the boulder behind him. Smiling Death remembered that Max had a mask covering his face, and he had no clue about his name.
Previously, all of Smiling Death’s victims were ordinary people. This was because it was only until recently that he found out about the existence of other Awakeneds.
Smiling Death had always gathered information on his victims as he only likes to play with those who were alone and had no one else in their life.
That way, even if they were to disappear, it wasn’t going to alert a lot of people.
This went on for weeks. Before one day, someone approached him. This man’s shocking ability to transform into bats greatly surprising him, and since they had the same profession, it didn’t take long before they joined together.
Soon after, they had become unstoppable, preying on one village after another, not letting anyone off.
No one could deal with them at all. The bats would slowly consume those villagers, and Smiling Death would enjoy watching them despair.
Looking at their suffering faces was like a drug; he could not stop watching every single one of them. For him, it was the most beautiful sight.
This continued for some time with no one stopping them, letting them do whatever they wanted until one day they got greedier. After a short conversation, both of them agreed that they wanted more, they something better.
With their abilities, no one would be able to defeat them. This was how everything began.