Noah, a transmigrator that has lived more than a hundred lifetimes across a mosaic of realities, is once more reborn in a new world, but finds that the rules have changed.
A rare find, that beautiful crimson hair. That color was usually the result of cheap dye and a childish personality, desperate to prove individuality by opposing normality. It was a rare gift from nature, every strand like melting rubies, when most so-called redheads possessed only a diluted orange hue. But hers was like blood, drawing the eyes of all those around her, including Noah’s. Of all the women he had seen, met, and knew, even intimately, hers was the most purely crimson.
It was after school in early autumn, the light of the setting sun illuminating every strand and reminding him why it was worth it to approach her. She was walking across the empty soccer field, her body trembling from the adrenaline of all the running she had done in her track club. For once, Noah saw her without all of her friends surrounding her or her boyfriend’s arm draped over her shoulders like a pet boa constrictor. He had been waiting for this chance, longer than she could imagine.
“Lindsey, hey,” he said, meeting her in the open air, free from any interruptions.
“Noah, what are you doing here?”
She asked that question, but she knew the answer. What else would draw a boy to her, what other possible desire? He was going to flirt with her, possibly even ask her out. Would he be nervous? Would he be cocky? Would he play innocent and try to start with some small talk, or would he get straight to the point? Had he planned this? Had he been waiting? They had been friends since she transferred in their Sophomore year. Had that just been in anticipation of this?
It was clear in her eyes, that his intentions had been seen through, but it didn’t dissuade him. Rather, it was something that always amused him, the paradox of human coupling that became both easier and more difficult with age. She already knew what he desired, so unless she desired the same thing, her heart would be guarded, with no opening for a sneak attack to surprise her. It was a challenge that men and women had struggled with since the dawn of time.
“I heard that you and Sean broke up. I know what that feels like, how much it hurts, so I’m sorry. But if it’s not too soon, I wanted to ask if you’d like to go out with me this weekend?”
“Sorry, but since we’re graduating soon, I’m not sure I want to bother dating. After all, when summer comes, we’re all going to split up and go our separate ways.”
A rejection, not an optimal outcome, but it was within his expectations. He just had to convince her to give him a chance, but gently. He had to properly choose his words so that he wouldn’t come off as desperate and frustrated, but not try to ham it up by turning it into a sonnet like an out-of-touch nerd.
“Is that why you two broke up? Because you didn’t see a point in staying together? I doubt that. I think you believe in love, in giving it a chance. A lot of things will happen between now and graduation; Christmas, Valentine’s Day, the prom? That’s plenty of time to be happy, and to change your mind about which path you plan on taking. Plans can change, things can work out. All I want is a chance.”
“Sorry, but I’m just not interested in dating, and I’m too busy anyway. Besides, I like you only as a friend.”
She crossed her arms to warm herself, but she kept them low. It was an instinctive move, one that Noah’s eyes didn’t miss. He gave an exasperated smile and began to laugh. “Ok, I get it. Maybe next time.”
Lindsey, wanting this conversation to be over, walked past him, but beneath his continuing laughter, she heard something, a metallic click, and it chilled her blood. She spun around and saw the knife in Noah’s hand.
“Jesus Christ, what are you doing?!” she screamed while raising her hands to shield herself.
“Don’t worry. This isn’t for you.”
He swung up his hand and stabbed himself in the throat. The strike, it was so fast, but it was gentle, just the tip of the blade breaking his skin and severing his Jugular with pinpoint accuracy. It was a perfect, fluid movement, as if he had spent hours practicing. Blood began to spray from the small wound, and to the sound of Lindsey’s scream, he allowed himself to fall on his back. She rushed over and tried to stop the bleeding. Covering it with her hand only slowed the outpour, so she reached into her bag for something to use as a bandage.
“Stop, just keep your hand there,” Noah said calmly. The vein he had struck carried blood out of the head and sent it back to his heart, so the rest of the blood in his system would keep his brain oxygenated, at least while it was still in his veins.
“You’re fucking crazy! I’m not going to let you die like this!”
“I’ve already died like this… countless times before.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s exactly what it sounds like. Reincarnation, transmigration, whatever you call it, I count lives like you count years, and every time I die, I’m immediately reborn with all the memories from my past lives. I’ve been born and died so many times, laughed and suffered through so many lifetimes.”
“That’s just blood loss talking. Hang on!” She tried to pull out her phone, but Noah grabbed it with surprising strength.
“You’re pregnant, aren’t you? Sean freaked out after you told him and that’s why you broke up.”
Her face became as pale as his. “How could you possibly know that?”
“Because this isn’t the first time I’ve confessed to you. I’m always myself, but the world I’m born into is never the same. Every time I die, I return to the day of my birth, but in a different timeline. I’ll end up in a world where my surroundings are different, or history didn’t go the way I remember it, or events will happen in my future that I can’t predict.
Only in my past seven lifetimes have you been present, and in all seven lifetimes, I could never make you mine, no matter how much I wanted you. Five of those times were because you were pregnant. You and Sean get back together by Thanksgiving, and I and everyone else watch you dance together at the prom. Each time, I kill myself to try again in my next life. These past eighteen years, they’ve flown by like the blink of an eye for me.”
His bleeding was starting to slow, his body going cold and his mind getting foggy.
“Why me? Why would you keep going after me? Why am I worth killing yourself over?”
“It’s the only way I can live anymore, following some task or game that keeps me busy. Every life I’ve lived, it’s been a lie, concealing who I am, what I know, what I’ve experienced. I have to pretend to have emotions, because after all this time, I’ve almost forgotten what they feel like. I’ve almost forgotten what’s like to actually feel something. But when I see you, I get to experience actual longing. I have an actual crush, something so simple and childish, but such a wonderful feeling. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a redhead, but I’ve lived for so long, I have to grasp at any scrap of meaning that can make me happy, and make my existence a little less hollow.”
“What about your family? What about this life you’ve built? You’re just going to throw it all away?”
With the last of his strength, he removed her hand from his wound so that it could bleed freely. Her list was limp. Had he convinced her? Or had she simply realized that he had already bled too much and was beyond saving? He covered his left eye with his hand, blinded by the setting sun while Lindsey’s shadow obscured the right side of his face. The light passed through her crimson hair like stained glass, making his blood shine beautifully.
“I’ve seen so many worlds, so many different realities, but none of them could make me happy. I’ve never known what it felt to belong or feel at home. Every world felt wrong to me. This is yet another reality that I am incompatible with. All I can do is hope that the next world is one I can be happy in.”
The blood at last stopped flowing, and Noah closed his eyes and released his final breath. Then, in his mind, there was a familiar flash of light and he felt himself being pulled to the next world.
A Whole New Game
Without even opening his eyes, Noah knew that something had gone wrong. He was groggy, but he could definitely feel the cold, hard ground underneath him. This didn’t make sense. At this moment, he’d normally be experiencing his own rebirth, coming out of the womb as a newborn baby. His body was also still the same size. He could feel the weight of his limbs, as well as his clothes. His hand was still covering his eye, but just moving it took a tremendous amount of strength. He managed to work his eyelids open and stared up at the blue sky. It was late in the afternoon when he killed himself, but now it looked to be midmorning.
This had never happened before, no matter how many times he had died. Either he had somehow survived his suicide attempt and been moved while he was unconscious, or he had reincarnated without being reborn, breaking into another timeline rather than being properly incorporated. Was his reincarnation power changing?
Noah sat up and looked around. He was lying on an unpaved road in the woods. His hoodie and the shirt underneath were stiff with his dried blood, but when he felt his neck, there was no wound. He had been healed, but had his blood also been replenished? It would have taken at least thirty minutes for the blood on his clothes to dry this much, not enough time for his body to restore any meaningful amount, so this was likely a partial rebirth.
He got to his feet and staggered, struggling to breathe. There was no strength in his limbs and his thoughts were getting weaker by the second. This fatigue, it was similar to blood loss, but also different. It was like there was some kind of extra muscle going crazy, using up all of his strength. If it didn’t dissipate soon, he’d end up passing out again. What in the world? He looked down and realized that he wasn’t casting a shadow. The fatigue must have been messing with his vision. Now that he thought about it, his left eye was itching a bit. He gave it a rub and it was like a switch had had been flipped. The fatigue vanished, as if that extra muscle had settled, and when he looked down, he saw his shadow. So, that feeling wasn’t blood loss. It must have been some kind of leftover trauma from his suicide or this glitchy rebirth.
Where was he? The road was unusual. The ground was packed, but the sediment seemed native to the spot. In the modern world, even the unpaved roads were made with at least a layer of sand and gravel to prevent it from being overgrown. He had his wallet and his phone with him, but there was no service.
A sound reached his ears, one that most people rarely heard outside of movies and TV. It was the sound of horse hooves. He looked over his shoulder, seeing two adult men on horseback approaching him from down the road. Behind them, an old man driving a horse-drawn wagon and leading… slaves. Wearing rags for clothes, more than a dozen men and women of varying ages were being led by chains.
This strange caravan came to a halt in front of him. The men on horseback and the one driving the wagon stared at him in confusion.
“You’re blocking the road. Get the hell out of our way before you end up like them,” the driver barked.
It had been a long time since Noah had seen a slave shipment. He normally only found them in post-apocalyptic timelines, when society had broken down. That, or timelines where the south won the Civil War and other such occurrences.
“Did you hear me? Get out of the way!”
“Boss, look at all of the blood he’s covered in,” one of the men on horseback said.
Noah looked at them. Their clothes, they were shoddy, wool clearly not woven by any kind of modern machinery and with coats and boots made of primitively-treated leather. Maybe he had reincarnated to a third-world country? If this was a post-apocalyptic timeline, then whatever happened wasn’t manmade. It happened before the Industrial Revolution, some kind of natural disaster that halted mankind’s development. A meteor?
“I don’t think he understands us. He’s got some weird clothes. He might be the son of some noble,” the other horseman said.
Their weapons, they had sheathed swords but no signs of any guns. So, this was an era before gunpowder was invented. Medieval? It sure seemed like it.
“If he’s a noble, we can ransom him back, and if not, he looks healthy and strong enough to sell for a good price. Chain him up with the others.”
One of the men got off his horse and approached Noah with a length of rope. None of them were aware that he still had his knife on him. As the man reached out to grab his hands, Noah slashed him across the throat. It wasn’t the pinpoint jab like he had given himself earlier, this was a bloody smile stretching from ear to ear. It had been a long time since he had last killed someone, but it was something he was very well-practiced in.
A fountain of blood sprayed forth and Noah threw his knife at the wagon driver, catching him in the chest. Before his first victim could drop to his knees, Noah ripped his sword from its sheath and charged towards the other horseman, already drawing his own blade to avenge his coworker. The throat was out of reach, so Noah deflected the oncoming attack and went for a stab in the side of the gut and up into the right lung.
There was a flash of light in his peripheral vision, coming from the old man. Noah’s instincts made him jerk back as a flare shot through the air, missing his face by an inch. It struck a nearby tree and exploded, spraying fire in all directions like a Molotov Cocktail. Noah looked back at the old man, one hand outstretched while the other covered that stab wound in his chest from Noah’s knife. He wasn’t holding a flare gun or any other kind of device that would explain what had just happened.
“You can’t be serious,” Noah muttered.
“Fireball!” the old man shouted again.
Just like before, a sphere of condensed flames formed in his hand, about the size of melon, and shot at Noah with tremendous speed. Noah dodged and rushed in to close the distance. The first fireball had forced him to let go of his sword and the second had forced him back before he could grab the second man’s. He’d have to finish this with his bare hands.
The horses were all throwing tantrums in fear from the fighting, but the old man continued to launch those mysterious flares. Noah circled around the horses, jumped, and tackled the man. There was no clumsy fumbling for control, Noah simply began beating him with his fist. His current body hadn’t been trained for combat, but he kept it healthy and strong and knew how much force he had muster up with each punch. Blood started spraying with the third punch, the old man unable to fight back and soon blacking out. Noah promptly retrieved his fallen knife and finished him off.
Noah took his time to catch his breath while he wiped off the blade, folded it up, and stored it in his pocket. He took those few moments to quell his annoyance. He was used to being reborn as a baby after every death and considered those early years to be his vacation between each new life, time to properly dispose of old memories, catalogue useful knowledge, and mentally deal with any loose ends. No one depended on him and he usually had a parent or caregiver to take care of him, giving him time to rest his mind. Now he had jump right back into a survival mindset and start from scratch in a world with all new rules.
Those fireballs the old man had launched, that was undoubtedly magic, something that he thought only existed in fantasy stories. He had never seen magic before, not in any of the timelines he had already lived in. Until now, he had operated under the belief of the Multiverse Theory, which stated that there was a timeline in for every possible subatomic event. Was it really possible for magic to exist in the multiverse? What did this timeline have that all the previous ones lacked?
The old man would have been a valuable source of information, but with his subordinates now dead, he would never willingly tell Noah anything. It wouldn’t be worth the time and trouble to interrogate him in this situation. Oh well, the answers would come in time, and Noah had learned how to be patient.
He turned his attention to the slaves, staring back at him with uncertainty. They weren’t rejoicing at the death of their captors, fair enough. After all, Noah hadn’t killed them in order to free the slaves or anything like that. As far as they knew, he was about to kill them all or just take them all and sell them himself. Each of them was a variable, possibly benefiting or dooming him. It would be best to just let them go, but he should at least get some use out them first.
The slave traders had spoken with an accent that he had never heard before, but it was English, though they probably didn’t call it that. These slaves must also speak it.
“All of you, I give you permission to speak. Do you all understand what I’m saying?”
They didn’t say anything, but they nodded in the affirmative.
“Are there any among you who are familiar with this area?” None of them answered. Possessing knowledge could either make them valuable or a liability. They didn’t want to expose themselves unless they knew what awaited them. Noah sighed and returned to the old man, patting him down until he found an iron key, likely going to all of their collars.
He held up the key for all the slaves to see. “I need one of you to guide me to a safe area with a source of fresh water and off the road where I won’t be seen. Whoever volunteers will get their collar removed and can ride in the wagon. Once I’m brought to a suitable location, you will all will be set free.” Six slaves raised their bound hands. “You,” Noah said.
He had ***********ed a teenage girl that looked to be around his age. She was dirty and underfed, but looked healthy enough to be useful to him, and he could certainly overpower her if she tried to betray him. It was hard to gauge her appearance in this state. She had a pitiful look permanently etched into her face, like a basset hound. If he cleaned her up, she might be a real cutie, but right now she was so dirty that he couldn’t even tell her natural hair color.
“What is your name?”
“Tin, sir.” She didn’t make eye contact. None of them did.
“Do what I say, Tin, and you’ll earn your freedom. Go against me and I’ll kill you.” He unlocked her metal collar but left her wrists bound. “Now help me take care of these bodies.”
Noah searched the corpses of the three slave traders, taking everything of value. Along with their swords, he got a couple daggers, some cord, and three makeshift wallets. They were snake skins with stacks of bronze coins inside, tied to their belts. It was a clever concept.
“Tin, is there any danger of wild animals in these woods? Anything that I should worry about?”
“Monsters will surely be drawn by the smell of blood here. It would be best if we moved on now.”
Noah huffed in annoyance. Great, now he had monsters to worry about. This certainly was a world unlike any he had seen before. Plus, he wanted to take the corpses with him. He was sure he could find a use or two for them, as well as take their clothes and anything else of value on their person when there was more time. He also didn’t want to leave any evidence of what he had done.
“Very well. Remove the clothes from the bodies and put them in the wagon.”
She wordlessly obeyed, proceeding to strip the corpses without any shred of unease or discomfort. Most girls her age would be too squeamish to do anything like this. As she worked, Noah searched the wagon and found a canvas bag, smelling too rancid to be used for food. He soaked it with a wineskin, and while it wasn’t ideal, it was good enough for him to use to put out the fires that the old man had started. He and Tin completed their tasks, leaving three naked bodies on the road and a few charred trees. Noah retrieved one of the swords, just a crummy machete, but sharp enough to get the job done. He showed no discomfort in decapitating the bodies and storing the heads in the canvas bag.
“Drag these bodies into the woods, out of sight from the road. That should satiate any beasts that search this area.”
There was no telling what the value of these slave traders were. If they were even slightly important to someone, their disappearance might lead to an investigation. Three nude, headless bodies that were devoured by monsters wouldn’t leave any evidence. They couldn’t even be identified. On the other hand, if they were criminals, then Noah might be able to use their severed heads as confirmation of their deaths and collect a bounty. He had been in a lot of bad situations and chaotic timelines, so this mindset was a skill he knew he could rely on and use as he needed.
Once the bodies were dealt with, Noah took his seat at the front of the wagon and Tin joined him. The two extra horses were tethered to the sides of the wagon and would follow along. Noah cracked the reins and the horses pulling the wagon began moving forward.
“There is a suitable place several miles down this road. I will show you where.”
“Until we get there, I have questions that I need answered. Where am I? What country is this?”
“This is the Algata Province of the nation of Uther.”
“How large is Uther? How much of the continent does it take up?”
Tin bowed her head. “Please forgive my ignorance. I do not know the size of this country, nor what a ‘continent’ is.” The way she had reacted, was she expecting him to punish her?
Her answer was to be expected, though. A slave educated in geography would be an unusual find. It would be good if he could get his hands on a decent map, though in this era, that was probably a lot to ask for. In a world with magic and monsters, there was no telling what the planet’s topography looked like, even the arrangement of the continents. He had traveled previous Earths numerous times, but much of his experience was now obsolete.
“Relax, I’m not going to hit you for not knowing something. Just keep answering my questions as best as you can. Uther, is it a rich country?”
“I… don’t know for sure. Perhaps there is wealth in the capital, but this is the countryside.”
“Does it operate under a monarchy? Or do they elect their leaders?” She looked at him like he had spoken in gibberish. “Does it have a king or queen?”
“Oh, yes, sir. There is a royal family, but I don’t know anything about them.”
“What do they use for currency?”
“Metal coins, like silver and gold.”
Noah retrieved one of the snakeskin coin purses and emptied it out onto the seat between them. It was about a dozen bronze coins and a few silvers. The other two could be expected to hold a similar amount.
“How much would you say this is? Would you say it is a large amount of money or not much?”
She looked at the coins with her glum expression. “I don’t know. I’ve never handled money before.” She picked up one of the silver coins and showed it to Noah. “This is what I’m worth.”
‘Well, that’s a depressing thought.’ “What season is it currently?”
That was good for Noah. In order to get a foothold in this new world, he’d need ample time with the chances of survival at its highest. Winter would hamper his mobility, possible actions, and make life a lot harder. Had he appeared in this world a few months earlier, he could easily freeze to death before reaching civilization.
“You spoke before of monsters. What should I be cautious of in this forest?”
“The biggest danger is the wolves. They travel in packs and kill whatever they see. There are also bears, large spiders that hide in burrows, and goblins.”
Giant spiders and goblins? This world was getting more fantastical by the second.
“Tell me about the goblins.”
“They are small, only about the size of children, and maybe as smart. They have weapons and often ambush travelers.”
“The old man, what was that technique he used? I’ve never seen anyone do that before.”
“That was magic.”
‘Thought so.’ “Tell me everything you know about magic.”
“It is the blessing of the gods, letting people call down divine retribution upon their enemies. It can create fire, control water, make you stronger, and do all kinds of things. There many different kinds of magic users. I’ve heard of some of them; mages, paladins, warriors, shamans, but I don’t know much about what they can do.”
“What kind was the old man?”
“A mage, I think.”
“So can anyone use it? Or is it passed down through the bloodline?”
“I don’t know.”
That was a problem. If it was an ability passed down from parent to child, then he was screwed. His glitchy reincarnation left him with the regular genes of his last parents. If magic wasn’t something he could learn or acquire, life would get exponentially harder. Then there was the mentioning of gods. He had spent several lifetimes searching for signs of the existence of God, some presence of divinity that might explain his existence, but he always came up short. However, in a world where magic existed, perhaps gods might as well.
As they continued through the woods, Noah thought about the slaves walking behind the wagon. Letting them go might be a liability. They knew he had killed three slave traders, they knew where he would set up camp. The slave traders mistook him for the son of a noble, so if the slaves went into some town and started blabbing about him and what he had done, people might come after him. Perhaps it would be better to dispose of all of them? No, the chances of him managing to kill them all would be low and that would be a lot of corpses to deal with, not to mention he didn’t know if killing them would get him into trouble.
‘To think my laziness would compensate for my withered conscience…’
They were passing by a hill with trees blocking much of the view, but all of the horses flicked their ears to it. Noah didn’t miss that tick and reached into the wagon. When searching earlier, he found a bow and a few arrows, none of which seemed very well made. He took aim up the hill, spotting a shadow moving between the hills. It had been a long time since he had last used a bow. It was one of his hobbies about four or five lifetimes ago. This was nothing like the modern bows he was used to handling, but when he let the arrow slip free, it shot between the trees and found its mark. Noah didn’t see what he hit, but there was a shriek of pain that he did not recognize and the sound of multiple entities running off.
“What was that?” Tin asked.
“I assume that was one of those goblins you mentioned.” This was getting dangerous. “You stay here,” he told Tin. He brought the wagon to a stop and went back with his knife and the key. He cut the slaves’ binds and unlocked their collars. “You’re all free to go, get out of here. But don’t even think of trying to follow—”
They ran off before he could finish his sentence. Good, that would make him less of a sitting duck, and they’d draw the attention of anything that might want a piece of him. He returned to the driver’s seat and turned to Tin, holding up one of the coin purses.
“Get me to that safe spot and this is yours.”
The forest thinned a lit, the trees spreading out far enough for the wagon to go off the road and head towards the sound of running water. They arrived at a clearing where a small waterfall thumped on exposed rock. It was isolated, just the place Noah needed. There was even a cave behind the waterfall where he could make camp. However, they were not the only inhabitants.
“Tin, what the hell is that?” he asked, looking at the creature sliding across the ground. At first, he thought it was giant slug, the creature about the size of a beer keg, but he then realized it was translucent. There were four of them.
“That is a slime. They like damp places. Their undersides are like giant mouths, devouring whatever they crawl over. Their bodies are covered with a thin skin, and if you tear it, its insides pour out and change the shape of its body.”
“Are they dangerous?”
“Yes. Anything that their undersides touch will melt, same with anything you stab them with. The bigger they are, the faster it happens, and the faster they can move.”
“How do I kill them?”
“You have to hit their brains.”
The slimes hadn’t noticed them yet, so Noah took aim with the bow at the nearest one. It was hard telling the front from the back of these things, but he spotted something floating inside, suspended, an apple-sized lump of solid tissue. He released the bolt, missing the creature’s brain by several inches. It rumbled in pain and its gelatinous insides spilled out of the wound like a runny nose. Upon contact with the air, the viscera began to congeal and develop a layer of skin. It formed an extension of itself, like a second tail, now searching for what had injured it.
‘So, that’s what she meant when she said it changed the shape of its body.’
Already, the arrow was halfway dissolved. That thing was like a giant moving stomach. He would have preferred to take care of these monsters from a distance, but he didn’t have enough arrows to throw away. It would also get dark soon, and he didn’t want to try and look for another spot.
He turned to Tin and cut her binds, then handed her one of the coin purses. “You’re free. Go wherever and do whatever you want. But don’t even think of taking anything from the wagon.”
He got up from the wagon and approached the waterfall with one of the slave traders’ swords in his hand. It was the worst of the two, useful at least for experimentation. He approached the slime, already back to full health after being shot with the arrow. It didn’t appear to have very good vision, didn’t even appear to have eyes. He picked up a stone from the creek and threw it, sending it bouncing a few feet away. It pounced on the rock with surprising speed, smothering it with its body and absorbing it. So, these things could jump. If it could see, it was probably short-ranged, based on movement, or more likely it could sense vibrations in the ground.
He took another rock and threw it at the slime, this time hitting it. The rock ripped through its fragile skin and its guts spilled out. The blow stunned it just long enough for Noah to sprint over and cleave through its brain. As quickly as he attacked, he darted back. He had learned through numerous occasions to always expect an enemy to get back up. Plus, he wanted to avoid getting sprayed with any guts.
Despite his concern, it was a clean kill. The monster, originally a nauseating yellow, turned gray, and its exposed insides began to smoke and dissolve. Unfortunately, smoke was also coming from his sword. This really was a nasty acid. Noah wiped the blade off on the grass and then rinsed it in the river to clean it. It had undergone severe corrosion. Hopefully it would last until he killed them all.
One thing made him happy, though. When he killed the slime, numbers didn’t appear in the air, displaying experience points earned. He started having concerns as soon as that first fireball was launched at him, and when Tin said it was a slime; he thought he had been reincarnated into some kind of RPG world. If at any point, she used the word ‘level’, he would have permanently lost the ability to keep a straight face and take anything seriously.
Anyway, back to killing.
He repeated his strategy with the other three slimes. A fist sized rock thrown with sufficient speed and accuracy could pierce the monsters and stun them long enough to deliver a fatal strike. After the third slime, his sword broke in half, the end completely melting off. There was one slime left, but it would be tricky. It was slithering around behind the waterfall, unaware of what had happened to the others. The vibrations of the water would probably mask Noah’s movements, but he didn’t want to take the chance.
He crept behind the waterfall and threw another stone, striking the slime near the brain. Its body curled up like a slug sprinkled with salt, and Noah rushed over. This time, he thrust the broken blade straight in. He managed to stab the brain, but the sword slipped right into its body. Noah pulled away before his inertia could send his hand plunging into the acidic muck, but several drops splashed him and he could feel his skin dissolving. He thrust his hand into the waterfall and steadied his breathing as the pain faded.
That was too close for comfort. He’d have to come up with another way to stop those things if he encountered them again.
The area had been secured, now to set up camp. He stepped out from behind the waterfall, and to his surprise, he saw Tin standing by the wagon, as if waiting for him.
“What are you still doing here? I told you, you’re free.”
“I… don’t know what that means. I don’t know how to be free.”
“I gave you money. Take it to the nearest town and buy yourself something to eat and some new clothes. Look for anyone who will hire you, hopefully offering room and board in exchange. From there, start your new life.”
“Is that an order?”
“No, it’s advice. You don’t have to take orders from me, I’m not your master. I hired you to be my guide, you got your money, and our contract is complete. Now we part ways.” She continued to stand there, looking like a puppy in the rain. “You can have one of the horses. You’ll be able to get to town faster and outrun pursuers.”
“So you want me to prepare for your arrival into town?”
This girl was starting to get on his nerves. “You’re not listening. You don’t have to do anything for me. You’re your own person now.”
“But I’m not. I’m yours.” She was almost whimpering now. Time for some tough love.
Noah retrieved his bow and an arrow and took aim at her. “Leave now, or I’ll kill you and use your corpse for bait to catch my dinner.”
There was a glimmer in her eyes. “If I can be useful as a corpse, I’ll do that. Please, use me as bait.”
Noah sighed and lowered the bow. Were he a harsher man, that wouldn’t have been a bluff. This girl was needier than he would have liked, but her subservience made her more trustworthy than anyone he could expect to find in this world. Maybe it would be good to have an extra pair of hands to help him, at least until he got out of this forest. Besides, it wasn’t like this was the first time he had owned a slave. There were many dark timelines when he followed the rule of ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans.’
“Fine, I’ll be your master. What skills do you have?”
“I can count to one hundred, I can write some, and I can tend to livestock and work fields, as well as perform household chores. I am also very experienced in pleasing men, so I can service you whenever you desire.” She bowed her head as she spoke, not seeing Noah raise his eyebrows at her last sentence.
Depressing as her words were, he wasn’t one to turn down an offer for sex from someone so willing. On the other hand, nothing about her current appearance stoked his libido. He was standing twenty feet away and could smell her like it was twenty inches. Sitting next to her in the wagon had been very unpleasant.
“Let’s get camp set up and then we’ll talk. You said you can tend to livestock, correct? Then I’ll leave the horses to you. Get them watered and fed and then remove these dead slimes. I imagine they’ve lost their acidity in death.”
Tin obediently went to work while Noah gathered all of the chains and collars that had been used to lead the slaves. There was also plenty of rope in case any of their binds broke during transport. Noah snapped the collars off the chains and used them as hammers to break the weaker links and split the chains into multiple short segments. He split the rope into thinner strands and set up a perimeter around the campsite, then hung the collars and chains on it like Christmas ornaments. Any intruders that tried to enter would hit the tripwire and the jingling chains and collars would give them away. And in case they were set off by the wind, the horses would be the second line of detection. If they started acting up, then a threat was nearby.
“I’m going to go collect some firewood. If any monsters approach, just holler for me and yeet some horseshit at them. The smell will drive them off.”
“Yes, Master,” she said with a bow.
Noah set out into the woods with his only sword and a satchel the old man had been carrying. He didn’t want to stray far from camp, but he had to check out the area and make sure there wasn’t anything to be afraid of. One thing he was especially cautious of were the giant spiders that Tin had mentioned. She said they hid in burrows, so he kept a close eye on his footing, avoiding any suspicious areas that could be a possible ambush. Webbing on the ground was a telltale sign, proof that he wasn’t the only one using tripwires to detect enemies.
The first thing he did was gather pine boughs from around the site, accumulating a large pile that they would use for bedding and making frequent trips back to the camp. Then he gathered all of the firewood he could carry, but focused only on specific trees. This world was very different to the one he was used to, but most of the trees appeared to be the same. He also filled his pockets and the satchel with medicinal plants and even some edible mushrooms. As he moved, he had a strong feeling that he was being watched, and he knew what was watching him, especially when he found one of their dead.
It was one of the wolves Tin had mentioned, larger than any he had ever seen. His nose led him to it, the wolf reeking of death and rot. The meat was well beyond eating and its fur and bones weren’t worth the effort to harvest, especially with all the maggots and flies, but there was something that he could definitely make use of.
The sun was starting to set by the time he was done, but there was still plenty he wanted to do. Luckily, dinner was already taken care of. The slave traders had packed enough food for themselves and their cargo. It was hard bread and dried meat, something that Noah’s spoiled taste buds would not appreciate, but he’d seen enough hard times to know how to be grateful.
Before doing anything else, he removed his hoodie and t-shirt. He had kept them on as an added layer of protection in case anything attacked him, but the blood had hardened into a hard crust and he was glad to be able to finally take them off. Had he known he would reincarnate like this, he would have gone home and just hung himself, preferably with his pockets stuffed with useful tools. He laid out his shirt and hoodie under the waterfall, directing the spray right onto the blood stains. He pinned them down with stones so that they wouldn’t be washed away.
He noticed Tin watching him like a curious feline. She had never seen muscles like his before. To survive in the countryside, men required great strength to farm and fight and muscle mass naturally accumulated. Noah’s appeared more defined, like he had focused on improving the quality of his muscles instead of just chasing after the vague definition of strength.
“Tin, take off your clothes.”
“I shall do my best to satisfy you, Master.”
“Not like that. Put that dress of yours here under the waterfall. Do the same with all the clothes you removed from those slave traders. It may be low-quality, but whether we use them or sell them, it would be best if we can at least remove the stink.”
Tin removed her dress, though it was more like a raggedy potato sack with holes cut for her head and arms and a strip of cloth for a belt. She was malnourished and scrawny, but he just had to polish her up a little.
With the last of the light, he searched the river for stones. He’d test their hardness, striking them against the back of his sword. Once he started getting sparks, he returned to the riverbank and gathered up some tinder. He ground some dry birch bark into a fine dust and struck the rock against his sword over it. It took several attempts, but some sparks landed in the dust and it went up like gasoline. From there, he built up a fire on the riverbank with all of the birch wood he had gathered. By the light of the flames, he started digging a hole using his sword and a metal skillet he found in the wagon.
“Master, please allow me to do that instead,” Tin said.
“No, what I need you to do is start collecting clay from the river. If you dig under the silt, you’ll find it. Make a big pile of it here next to me.”
The two of them continued to work, with Noah expanding the pit and Tin gathering the clay. Once he was done, he smoothed out the sides of the pit and then began slathering on the clay that Tin had gathered. He used the leftover clay to make some cups and bowls and put them in the fire to bake. He built a second fire, this time putting it in the pit. It was with a softer wood. He didn’t even need to see Tin’s face to sense the curiosity within her.
“I’m making a wash basin. No offense, but you stink. But for now, let’s eat.”
With two fires burning, Noah and Tin dined on low-quality rations. There wasn’t any conversation between them. The sight of Noah without a shirt and Tin completely nude made it an amusing sight. Once he finished eating, Noah reached into his satchel and took out what looked like a giant dirt clod. In reality, it was a lump of animal fat. He had gathered it from the carcass of the dead wolf, rolled it into a ball, and packed it with a shell of dirt to keep it from making a mess when it carried it. It cleaned it off and put it in the metal skillet, then set it over the fire.
“Now, while that melts, let me see your teeth.” It was a request that Tin wasn’t used to hearing, but she obeyed, flashing her teeth like a snarling animal. “Huh, not too bad.”
Despite her poor lifestyle, her teeth were in good condition. She grew up in a world without processed foods, sugars, or chemicals, so despite never brushing, there was no rot that he could see. Her breath was pretty bad, but that was because she lacked the concept of flossing.
Noah walked over to one of the horses hitched to a tree, nibbling on the pile of grass that Tin had gathered for it. He cut a lock of its long hair, washed it in the river, and returned to the campfire, where he braided several strands into a strong thread. He made a second and turned to Tin.
“Take this thread and do as I do.” He used the thread to floss his teeth, something which Tin had never seen before. The thread was thick and coarse and broke a few times, but it got the job done, and he showed her the pieces of meat from their dinner that he had gotten out.
She mirrored the action to the best of her abilities, and while she did that, he looked at the skillet, now with a puddle of melted fat. He gathered some white ashes from the fire and mixed it in, as well as some water.
“Now I’m going to show you how to make soap.” Last, he added a handful of ground-up pine needles and started stirring the mixture together.
“You’ve never heard of it?”
“I heard that the nobles use it. It makes them smell nice.”
“It’s been a long time since I did this. If I had time and proper tools, I could make something of a much higher quality, but this should get the job done.” He set the skillet back on the fire so that the water could be boiled away. “Have you gotten every tooth?”
“Then take a mouthful of this.” From next to the fire, there was also a cup made, of all things, tin. It was full of water brought to a simmer, with ground charcoal and pine needles mixed in. He let it cool and then handed it to her. “You said you could count, right? Well swirl this around your mouth and start counting. Once you reach one hundred, swallow it.”
She took a mouthful and handed it back to him so he could finish it off. With that taken care of, Noah took the skillet off the fire and examined his soap. It certainly would never sell in a grocery store, but it would get the job done tonight. Next, he turned his attention to the wash basin and the withered fire. The clay packed onto the sides of the pit had hardened and could now retain water.
Noah carved the soap off the skillet and handed it to Tin. “Here, use this to shovel as much charcoal and ash out of the basin as you can, then clean it in the river and use it to fill the basin with water.”
As Tin went to work, Noah started on his own task. Like her, he went to river, but started collecting stones. He’d bring them back and put them in the campfire to heat up. By the time Tin had finished with her task, the rocks were all sufficiently hot, and using sticks to handle them, he moved them into the basin until it had reached the perfect bath temperature. It was still ashy from the fire, but that wasn’t a problem.
The reason why he had used different fires for the basin and soap was because of one of the resulting chemicals, lye. Despite being a caustic substance, it was required for making soap. It was collected from the ashes of hardwood, like birch. He had used a softer wood in the fire to harden the sides of the basin so any leftover ashes wouldn’t turn the water too alkaline.
“All right, now to test it.”
Noah stripped down to match Tin and grabbed a piece of fabric from the wagon to use as a washcloth. He got it wet in the basin, rubbed some of the soap on it, and, satisfied with how it lathered, started wiping off the sweat that had accumulated since his arrival to this world.
Tin held a piece of soap in her hand, staring at it with wide eyes. “It smells… sweet!”
She mimicked Noah, using a makeshift washcloth and the soap to scrub herself raw. She was frantic, leaving no spot untouched. The two of them cleansed their skin, lathering themselves up and then rinsing in the river to keep the bath water clean. With the dirt removed, much was revealed to Noah. Neither of them said anything about the countless scars, bruises, and brands that covered Tin’s body. Finally, he had her lie on her back and lowered her head into the basin, then scrubbed her hair with the soap until the bathwater turned as black as ink. She sat up and rung the water out of her hair as he stood up and stretched.
“Huh, so you’re a blonde. I honestly couldn’t tell your natural color. You were so dirty that I wasn’t sure if the drapes matched the carpet.” She didn’t say anything back, just crouched by the basin, holding herself. Wait, she was trembling. “Tin?”
She looked up at him, and though her face was wet from the bath, he could clearly see her tears. “I… I’ve never smelled this clean before!”
He smiled and rubbed the top of her head. “I’m glad.”
She reached up and grasped his hand, desperation in her eyes. “Master, can I please service you now?”
A small laugh escaped Noah. “My, my, what a greedy little slave you are.”
He leaned down, lifted her chin, and left a soft kiss upon her lips. She shivered from that touch, gentler than any other in her life. She took the initiative, kissing him in return while her tongue slipped into his mouth. As they swapped saliva, she reached out and began caressing his manhood, erect and throbbing. She had been eyeing since the moment he stripped down, her mind buzzing with all of the ways she would please him.
When Noah finally pulled his lips from hers, she knew what he wanted and was eager to provide it. She leaned in, his cock disappearing into her mouth, only to reappear with a glistening layer of spit. Tin wasn’t shy in the least, she put all of her skills to work. She deepthroated him to make herself gag and salivate, then would use her hands to work the shaft while she slurped on his head like a lollipop. Despite her joy at being so clean just a minute ago, she was certainly making a mess, her face covered in spit with big foamy drops dribbling onto her breasts.
Noah rested his hand on her head and groaned. “I’m glad I decided to keep you.”
She released his cock, gasping for air with her eyes full of drunken lust. “Am I doing good?”
“You’re magnificent, Tin.”
She went back at it, this time with a different target in mind. While she jacked him off, she sucked vehemently on his jewels, rolling them around in her mouth and balancing them on her tongue. She switched between her techniques with masterful skill, giving Noah no time to brace himself. He didn’t even need tell her when he was going to cum, she could tell just by his breathing and the way his muscles twitched. She swallowed his manhood like a voracious beast, her face pressed to his stomach as he swirled around inside her throat.
Several thick jets were pumped directly into her stomach, a salty dessert after her meal. Tin fell back, once again gasping for air. “Master,” she panted, “please don’t hold back. Use my body however you wish.”
“You’ve done well in pleasing me, but has anyone ever took the time to give you pleasure?”
He sat down cross-legged and pulled her across his lap like he was going to spank her. He held her by the throat, just a gentle grip to keep her still, while he free hand slipped between her legs and reached her honeypot.
“You’re so wet. To think you took so much joy in your work.”
Born and raised a slave, she had been abused and violated in all ways imaginable. She thought she had grown numb to it, but the feeling of Noah’s fingers touching her most private, sensitive area, they made her shiver and gasp. There was strength in his fingers, but his movements weren’t rough or clumsy. Rather, she sensed that his experience might surpass her own.
His fingers penetrated her, making her moan in a way she thought she never again could. His attack was relentless, probing every sensitive spot like an assassin striking her pressure points. She was a slender girl, body fat being a luxury for a slave, but her flesh rippled from the vibrations rippling from her ass. She could feel the weight of her breasts with every movement, and the sounds he was making, the sounds he was forcing her body to make, the squelching of soft, wet flesh, it was like she was experiencing this all for the first time.
The pleasure was beyond words, she wanted it to go on forever, but her body wouldn’t obey her commands. Her muscles spasmed without pause like she was being tickled. She inadvertently tried to pull away, her body wanting to protect itself from these sensations it couldn’t contain, but Noah’s grip on her throat remained firm. This position, what he was doing to her, it was so strange. She felt almost like an animal, like livestock, and Noah was the farmer, preparing her for breeding with some strange husbandry technique. Ironically, that wasn’t far from the truth.
She cried out, climaxes rushing through her like a flash flood, but Noah didn’t stop, even as she became limp. He continued mercilessly finger-blasting her, while his other hand released her throat and he forced his fingers into her mouth. She sucked on them like they had a honey glaze. They were her lifeline, all that was keeping her conscious. The movements of her tongue and lips, the quivering of her throat as she slurped up the flavor of his fingertips; if she didn’t work with all her might, the almost cruel assault of orgasms would rob her of all thought and crush her mind.
Only when her moans finally stopped did Noah let her experience peace. He laid her on her back and leaned over her. The lewd, exhausted look on her face, the way she panted with flushed cheeks and swimming eyes, it was an expression he always loved to see.
“You said I could do whatever I wanted with your body, right? Are you going to tell me that you can’t keep up with your master? That you lied and you can’t fulfill my desires?”
She reached out to him, her skinny arms coiling around his neck to pull him in. “Master, take me,” she begged.
By the light of the campfire, he penetrated her, just as numerous men had done before, but none of them made Tin feel like this. His lips joined hers, a passionate but gentle kiss, while in comparison, his thrusts, so fast and forceful, made her cry out to the stars overhead.