Touching my chin, I couldn't help but wonder if I was in the right place.
After shaking my head a couple of times, I concluded that I was standing in front of the wrong tree so I decided to walk away.
Yes, I did not misspeak. I was looking for a tree. Not just any tree but a huge tree with a face carved in its trunk.
Yes, you read that right—a tree with a face.
It is said that the human-faced tree can fulfill any desire. Yet very few know of its existence.
That tree is known as [The Tree Of Desires], and its location is ever-changing.
Meaning it could be in front of you at one moment and around the globe the next.
However, I knew that the faced tree would be in the 5th District's forest from now till the second year.
But I was in a forest full of trees! No chance in hell I would find my specific tree that easily.
"Haaa! Haaa!" Huffing and puffing, I trudged my mud-caked boots ahead step by step.
The terrain was rougher than I had expected.
Jerking my neck from left to right, I inspected all the trees I could without stopping my march.
"How hard can it be to find a tree with a fucking face?!" I couldn't help but complain in frustration.
My shoes weren't meant for trekking, so my foot was starting to hurt. I looked up and discovered that the sun was also about to set.
I only had a few minutes at best before they shut the entrance of the forest.
And I sure as hell didn't want to spend my first night in this world in a forest filled with wild mana beasts.
The novel didn't mention much about the location of the faced tree, so I only had a rough idea.
I knew how it looked and I knew it was supposed to be a few minutes walk away from the entrance.
"Huaa," Letting out an exhausted sigh, I bit my thumbnail. I had to find that tree, and I needed to find it quickly.
Shaking me out of my thoughts was a loud roar that I heard coming from deep inside the forest.
"Tsk, I don't have much time!"
The beasts would come out to the outer region once the sun sets. I didn't have the luxury to stop now.
Thinking that, I decided to speed up my search by running.
But before I could even take a step, I placed my foot on an uneven spot on the ground and fell on my face.
"Arghh!" After groaning in pain like a kid, I sat myself up and rubbed my chin that had hit the ground.
"Great!" I uttered before smacking myself on the head. "Can't even walk properly and hoping to survive in a dog-eat-dog world!"
Using my hands as support, I got myself up from the ground.
Standing up, I patted my clothes and was about to start walking again.
But before I could do so, my gaze fell on a tree. And when it did, I couldn't help but widen my eyes.
"Yes!" I exclaimed in excitement. "I found it!"
Running up closer to the tree, I started inspecting it with wide-shot eyes.
After a few seconds of looking at the tree, I was sure. This was it! This was the tree that I was looking for.
It had a human face engraved on its trunk. One would think it would be an easy task to find such a tree, but it was certainly not.
Due to all the other trees around it, this human-faced tree was very hard to notice.
It was camouflaged by the cover of the forest.
Looking closely, I saw that the human face on the tree had its eyes closed.
I also saw three small black dots on the top of its face.
My heart started racing as I looked at that spectacle of a tree before me. The fact that I was inside a web novel had just sunken deeper in me.
I stretched my hand and tapped on the forehead of the face engraved on the tree's trunk a few times.
After waiting for a few minutes, I tapped again.
Repeating this process around ten times, I stopped when I noticed some movement in the tree's face.
The tree's face slowly opened its eyes, but instead of pupils or iris, the eyes just had a hole in them.
I couldn't help but gulp down a mouthful of saliva in anxiety.
Taking slow breaths, I calmed my racing heart and collected my thoughts.
I knew that I wasn't in any danger, yet a tree with a moving face was a creepy sight to behold.
After a few seconds, the face opened its mouth a few times as if it was getting familiar with the feeling of moving its mouth.
"Human, what is your name?" The mouth of the tree moved, and a deep voice resounded directly in my head.
"L-Lucas. My name is Lucas Morningstar." Alarmed, I replied with a slight stutter.
Hearing something directly in my head rather than through my ears was a weird experience.
"A good name. Lucas means bright and Morningstar means the sun. Your name means a Bright Sun." The human-faced tree commented.
"Y-Yeah, I know that."
I didn't know that.
"Hahaha! Sure, human." The tree laughed like a Santa before continuing.
"So, shall we begin the test?" It said, "Since you found me and intentionally woke me up from my slumber, it is clear that you know what I am."
'Right to the point, huh?' I remarked in my mind before nodding.
"Yes, I know what you are. Please begin the test."
"Brilliant spirit. Now then, I will give you three riddles. If you can't answer even one of them, I will claim your life." The tree stated, and I only nodded my head once again in reply.
I know what I said about not endangering my life!
And despite what it may look like, I was confident in answering all of the riddles.
How? Because I've read all this in the novel! Duh.
"Good, then the first riddle, what disappears as soon as you call its name?" The tree asked.
"Silence," I replied confidently. It was a pretty simple and popular one, to be honest.
"Right answer! Now answer this!" The tree spoke before giving me another one of its riddles.
"What is one thing that can't be fought and can't be bought? One thing that binds us in its thrall, one thing that awaits us all?"
'Holy shit,' I commented in my head.
ƥαṇdα-ηθνε|·ƈθmIf I hadn't read the novel beforehand, I could've never guessed the answer to that.
"Fate." Without waiting for a second, I instantly answered, "The answer is fate."
"Very well done, Lucas! Now then, let's move on to the last one." The human-faced tree stated.
"I can be your truth, yet someone else's lie. I can be a sweet boon, yet I can be very vile.
"You can't escape me. In vain will be your tries. Run if you may, but you cannot hide. What am I?"
"Fuu!" I let out a soft breath before a wide grin flashed on my face.
"Reality," I responded. "Reality is your last answer."
"Correct! You've passed the test, Lucas Morningstar." The talking tree announced. "Now tell me, what is it that you desire?"
"I don't desire anything."