Li ch 5 the old man

The air lay stagnant between the trees.  In a forest of few sounds, one would wonder whether there was any life here at all. But if one did traverse this land whether by foot or through the canopy, the answer would be clear to ‘trained eyes’.  A dissonance would set in within them causing unease, a feeling which only increased the deeper one went within the sea of trees…

***

I stood  at the edge of a cliff. Blood and gore dyed the area in red with the remains of the what had attacked me. While my left shoulder was only slightly injured from where the hit some pain remain. But I was mostly unharmed.

After some the pain quickly retreated…

“…”

It was unusual. began to feel unease.

The beast was frenzied…

It was a threat I couldn’t take lightly while under this environment. Therefore it had taken a few minutes to dispatch.

I had not felt its presence until the very last moment which was very strange even for this place.

Further still, it was far from its normal dwelling spot.

“Can ‘they’ be related?”

I thought back to that night…

Whatever it was, it was like the ‘land’ itself was angry.

*click*

My heart skipped a beat.

The weird feeling I had then, was it pointing to this?

“It can’t be…!”

I thought back to the man who I failed to save. Looking below convinced me that he shouldn’t have died. But if he remains in the water for too long, not even that can save him if he gets swept to sea.

But now…

There was no point in continuing on this line of thought.

“…I’m sorry.”

“But I can’t delay any longer”

I descended along a rocky path down the cliff…

***

As I fell, my wailing mercilessly pounded my own ears. Then together with a loud splash, I felt a pain which momentarily caused a black out. But then the water which entered my windpipe force me awake and drove frantic motions of a man clawing at the intangible water. The current was strong, too strong. My head repeatedly oscillated at the river surface.

My attempts to remain afloat were largely in vain as the river had dragged me underneath several times. My vision began to lapse. The current was strong and my body felt weak after trying to fight the current.After one such lapse, I found myself clutching onto something buoyant.

At some point in time, the sky bright blue was now dim and a red was present. The current  had slow significantly and my mind was on the verge of failing.  My body now shivered, too long had I been immersed in the cool water.

For some reason, the current seemed to slow. I awoke from my languidness and anxiously eyed everywhere I could put my eyes on. Now within a deep meander, the water along the inner edge of the river had significantly slowed. The next thing I could remember was that I had beached myself onto the shore, suffering with tiredness unlike I had ever felt before. I forced myself from the shore and leaned onto a tree trunk. My body sagged down to the ground, and I lay slumped face towards the ground.

“…Night”

“Come…On…”

“…”

Panting heavily, I struggled to keep conscious and fought against the loaming darkness. But before I could make sense of my location, the last bits of light had faded.

It couldn’t tell whether the darkness was around me or between my eyes and the world.

***

*Gasp!*

My eyes were greeted with an unusual looking celling. I stared at the surface, unable to make out its fine features due to its distance and the lack of sufficient light. Dimly lit, the room in which I was had also a faint musty smell. I felt I was on something firm.

My exhaustion had lessened, but I in no could say that I was in all wellness.

*Growl…*

In its steed were strong pangs of hunger.

“Urgh…”

I dragged my hand over my face and softy breathed a sigh of relief.

But where was I and How did I get here? And for what reason was I bought here? I sat up while pondering these questions only to focus on a bookshelf close by which was filled with strange eight inch by six inch ‘books’.

The ‘bookshelf’ could just barely be called as such; It was of crude construction. The shelves made of irregular planks of wood in a manner which suggested that the owner only cared for practicality.

Ignoring my hunger, I walked towards the books after getting up from my resting spot with slight difficulty.

But where was this place? the last thing I could remember was dragging myself ashore. Anything else is a ‘No Go.’

I reached out to grab one of the books.

The bookshelf was filled with them.

My thoughts were that maybe these books could give me some clues to where this place was. Well, with the condition I could read them. But there was another reason…

To be honest I was scared. This place was almost the textbook definition of a prison as describe in any novel. With no windows and only a dim light source to keep the darkness at bay of a mere six or so feet, It was only missing iron bars and a lazy guard to be complete.

I needed to occupy myself a bit.

I looked at the cover of the book. There was no title except the words, HL vol 1.

I opened the cover but was surprised. The entire paper was cover with neat scribbles. It was a book after all… I stared at the them in disbelief.

I could read them!

“…there no point in questioning how.”

“…I might as well use it.”

While the first page appeared to be a table of contents, many of the terms were foreign to me and thus I was lost ever before I began. I tried to read what I could:

………………….

The purpose of this book

World map

The Black Zones

………………..

These immediately stood out for some reason.

“The most pressing issue now is to find out where I am.”

I thought back to the events earlier.

My pulse rose and my breath quickened. Suppressing my fear somewhat, I silently cursed the people who had tried to kill me.

This crazy place…

But now what I needed were bearings and directional sense. The current page of the book showed a map. As to what exactly it meant, I had no idea…

Was this the shape of the world or just some small part of it?

As the time pass slowly my thoughts drifted from the map I could hardly understand to how these book came to be.

“Hmm…”

But as I turned the page, something moved in the darkness!

I dropped the book in haste and raised my fists for whatever they were worth. And from what I had seen, it was not much…

“Who are you?!”

I heard my voice raspier than I had imagined it.

“My…”

A voice left the darkness.

“So the stranger has an interest in this old ones musings…”

I was startled at the sudden appearance of the gruff voice, which made my hand freeze in mid-air. I rigidly turned to the source but saw no one yet.

Upon reflex I had turned toward the bookshelf.

“Hmm… You are interesting, young man”

As I turned back towards the darkness, the appearance of an old man slowly materialized.

He casually walked toward me while I remained unable to move. He only stopped when a few feet from me. while his facial features were not too clear in this lighting, the deep wrinkles on it was obvious.  He wore a white robe which was on the verge of turning into rags. However, apart from this was nothing too different form a regular old man.

He being a full head shorted than I was looked up to my face, in which I could sense the casualness in his demeanour and a general lack of fear. His air thus was unnerving.

“I wouldn’t have guessed that anyone would take interest in these old records…”

He wrote this?

“Sorry about reading them without consent.”

The old man had stopped a meter or so away.

“…It’s fine.”

Seriously, who is he?

“I placed you here because this area was the safest place for you to recover.”

And he surprisingly read my mind…

I tensed up.

Clear and articulate, his words were easily to understand though he appeared to drag his words for whatever reason. But for some reason I felt that maybe he would hear me out.

But…

Wait…

What was this?

It was so sudden that I had just now noticed…

‘Why I can understand him now ?!’

Since communication is a two way street, maybe-

“Hey old man, where is this?”

His displeasure was clear.  Even I was surprised by how rude my own words sounded.

“Humph!-”

“I’m sorry, I don’t know why, but for some reason I talk like this… I really can’t help it…”

“…”

While I did not like the fact that he appeared unmoved, there was little else I could do but continue.

“I sorry, but I don’t know how I should to call you…”

The man’s face seemed to going into on of thought. His tension appeared to drop at my explanation.

But I’m thankful for being able to communicate. What was it that changed between now and then?

My thoughts were broken by the next word of the old man.

“…I see. That is indeed the case. Still, rude one …”

I could tell that he had a kin eye on my face on which I wore an apologetic face.

“No… I’ll ignore it.”

“Call me Narr Flow.”

***

I looked directly at the man as he spoke with a bit of haughtiness.

Trying to envision him as if he were a superior at work had allow me to reign in my nervousness somewhat. But it surly was placed on a shaky foundation.

Was he the one who took me from the river bank? I could see no reason as to why he may have done so.

Then again so did that man…

I nearly died twice in one day…

Just how dangerous was this place?

Even with the questions I already had, this world seemed to be thrusting more toward me. There was even the question of why I could now understand this man’s words.

But I couldn’t complain now. Even if I could, who would I complain to? When I thought about this, I felt as if I had forgotten something important.

Anyway, it wasn’t time for such thoughts…

If he wanted to kill me I would never have awaken. In addition, he even came out to greet me. Despite this, kindness was not free. I had to pay up sooner or later.

I may have tossed out the idea that this was a dream but I could not deny that its shadow still remained in my minds recesses.

The old man smiled and for a moment I worried whether if he could see past my façade. The thought made me cringe silently. But then he did not say anything else then but only turned to look at the bookshelf. I unwarily followed his eyes and searched through the few book to the ones he had his eyes on. In a swift but causal motion, he reached up, taking them off the shelf and into a pile that grew with each volume.  But he removed the first of the book retrieved and to my surprise tossed it toward me.

After a short while, He had removed three books in total, including the one that I currently held. Looking down at the book, I quickly knew that it was the one that I originally tried to take before I was interrupted by his entrance. He glanced upward, taking a passing glance at my face before uttering the words “Come…”

After he spoke, he body seemed to move with awkwardness that some of his age may have.  However, this could have been a play on my eyes, seeing this that may not have existed or that were meant to be seen. Whatever the reason, the man strolled into the darkness and I followed him while showing a slight bit of hesitation on my face.

****

Surprisingly, beyond the darkness were eventually a table with a few chairs. However, surrounding these were vast set of books lined on numerous shelf of around my height. The lighting here was greater than that of the earlier room, such that it was enough to see without issue. Curious to its source, I looked upward to the ceiling to find luminous objects transparent like that of crystal attached.  I unwittingly gasped at the unexpectedness of the entire scene; the tranquility of the surrounding made this place appear to be an ideal reading space.

“Wow…”

“…”

Before I realised I had muttered out these words. The old man remained silent, but now wore a slight grin together with a faint glint in his once sleepy eyes.

‘I guess no matter where, people want the things they like to be praised…’

Seeing the lack of windows and the crystal like lights made me wonder whether this place was underground. Strangely, while the air was still cool as before, it no longer held the dampness from earlier…

With the combination of the two reminding me of air conditioning…

I might as well shoot for it.

“Am I still in the forest?! Why is such a place here?”

As I spoke, the old man turned to me.

“So you understand…”

Given such a place, why would he bring me here?

“Well it’s not that it matters. Anyway, sit. ”

His words contained a mild fervour, and for some reason it felt familiar to me. It reminded me of when one would feign disinterest as to hide interest. But such an action would have been illogical based on his on introduction.  Or maybe it was that my earlier comment pleased him more than I initially believed it would.

‘Maybe he is more interested in me than me lets on…’

Soon, I found myself at a rectangular table with rounded edges on a seat that felt firm but pleasant.  While the two books Flow held was placed on his right, I took the book given to me that I had yet to open into my hand.

It had no title and the binding appeared to be made of a substance reminiscent of crystal. The cup from before flashed through my mind. But as interesting as it was, my attention couldn’t stray away from the old man who sat only a few feet away.  I returned the book to the table on my right when I saw that the old man appeared ready to speak.

“First, I must warn you that trying to deceive me will result in me immediately osting”

“Not even the strong ones dare to venture the forest at night using the paths.”

“In this forest, for the weak such as you, you will not last a few minutes there…”

These words were met with a silence which underscored his seriousness. He had already grasped that I was a foreigner to these parts from the little time that I knew him.

Looking at his pose, I already understood that he thought little of the threat.

I recalled that howl…

It was super effective.

But I questioned whether it was more dangerous for me to produce the truth. I scratched my scalp.

I wonder if he would believe me if I told him the truth.

If the situation was reversed, I would think I was crazy.

that was common sense-!

I had no idea of the ‘common sense of this world’ so I couldn’t asses it with any confidence.

What should I say?

The silence was broken as the old man leisurely continued.

“Now I’ll ask…”

He paused with his arm, no his elbow firmly on the table and his cheek on his fist; his face held eyes that now carried a tranquil look as if mocking the severity of my situation.

Like a sort of malevolence against my future, his eyes were cold and gazed in my general direction. They were the sort that a person who had seen much ‘things’ in his life, maybe too many things. But the man also spotted a slight smirk as if interested in my future response. The feeling of dissonance was surely real now.

I placed my hands to the table and slow rubbed my chin as I look at the smooth surface of the table. I had cast my eyes away, unable to bare that look any longer. He could see throught me is what my instinct told me and I had no intention of becoming some strange beast’s meal.

I inhaled softly then spoke while exhaling with equal force.

“Ok”

“hmm?”

Sensing the change I me, Flow glaze lessen and he returned to a more neutral state as if to allow me to speak.

“It’s not that I want to lie but I am fearful that it would be the truth that may be a problem.”

“…”

I raised my head. I looked at Flow. I wondered if this was wise choice. My tongue felt somewhat heavy from my hesitation and my mind drifted to the beads of sweat that crept down my brows.

“Well…”

“…”

“I don’t think I’m from anywhere around here”

“You don’t think? Are you taking me for a fool?”

As if sarcastically showing that I was stating the obvious, he raised his brow while still maintaining eye contact.

But apart for this, he sat with general disinterest. Or what I saw might have been something else. Was it instead disappointment? I couldn’t tell from his demeanour, but something change then. But he had remained silent. I took that as a sign to continue.

“I…”

“I don’t know how I came here…”

“…”

“I… When I thought at least I had found some temporary safe haven”

“We got attacked by only god what and got separated!”

“After that, I fell, and then nearly drowned in a river but then I find myself here!”

“such a crazy place…”

“From almost being killed by whacko godknowwhat and saved by some half naked guy that looks like some thug.”

“I was just heading back to my office and then I…”

Somehow I felt it would be best not to mention what I found in the alley.

“next thing I know I was somehow caught between a fight”

“… and I still don’t know where I am!”

My inner face contorted due to my lack of control of my speech. But it felt immensely good to vent of stress even if it may not have been at an appropriate time. And it was this fact that made my heart beat in a rhythm sounded by a mixing of fear and passion.

I placed my hand on my face.

‘At the very least, I need to make the best of what I have.’

However, as I looked at the old man face, I was stunned. He hadn’t changed his facial expression even through that little outburst of mine. No, there was a slight change in his eyes. The old man eyes, which was first lazy then force had returned to its original lazy look. However mixed in was a sharpness that I could somewhat recognize.

But this explanation would exclude the strange aura that I felt in my surrounding. Feeling such a strange sensation, I instinctively responded and jerked upward due to my surprise.  It felt a bit disgusting for whatever reason.

“…Hoh, interesting”

Confused at the old man comment, and I had no doubt that this fact was visible to him as it was likely clearly shown to him through my facial expression. He sounded genuinely interested in my story. But I had expected him to be of the more impatient folk.  Or was it something else?

‘Thinking back he did call me that before…’

I took him to be of the more straight forward type and thought that if maybe if there was some sort of mind reading skill he would have used it already. Maybe he did.

‘Well, whatever…’

‘Or was he enjoying my displeasure?’

It didn’t add up. I was getting more unsettled. A cold feeling began to setting at the nape of my neck.

‘Did I read wrongly? Well whatever, I might as well push forward ’

“I didn’t know people move at such insane speed or cut through rock with swords”

“Seriously what sort of…”

“You have yet introduced yourself…”

“Right… Sorry.”

I stopped momentary and scratched my check, embarrassed about such an oversight.

“My name is Li, Li Byr”

“… I see”

There was a period were nothing was said by either of us. Under the gentle light from the crystal which illuminated us, this surreal space felt even more empty and spacious than it was. For this quiescence, I became lost in the quietness, even if it was a strangely inappropriate time to do so.

However ,my mouth had move to break this stillness, even without my knowledge…

“I only remember me leaving work to go drop off data to one of our partners at an office and then got lead around…”

Then for some reason a white piece of, ‘paper?’ floats out of an alley”

What am I saying?

At that moment I experienced a crippling headache.

But my memory which were vaugue before seemed to have cleared up significantly.

But I needed to pause to make sense of the new information.

Back then what I saw was a metal slab and a big white dog…

No, it was more like a wolf.

A white wolf…

my face changed as I tried to remember more.

“There were some flashing strange ‘lights’, but when I came too I was smack in the middle of a fight.”

“There is nothing else I can say that you would want to know”

It may not be able to lie but I now thought that it was probably not a good decision to divulge everything.

“hmm…”

For the first time, Flow stroked his chin…

Li Ch 4

Upon awakening, I was greeted to blue heaven streaked with the residual tint of the red dawn. Faintly hungry, I stood outside of the tent alone.

After calming my panic, I surveyed the area and soon found something amiss in the middle of the clearing.  I approached, I was greeted with an elevated

I approached it.

There was an elevated mound of rock that had not been there yesterday. It was only a few feet higher than the surroundings. On its flat top was the man. He sat at its the centre.

“-?!”

But even stranger was that there was an eerie halo of light with peculiar markings of various colours rotating slowly on top of his head. The ring covered what looked like a five to eight-meter radius. But the halo itself look around no more than a tenth of a meter thick.  Below the ring was a shadow. The shadow was quite visible.

The ring’s sole occupant spoke, his mouth voiced noise filled with meanings, incomprehensible to me.

I watched as there was a sudden change in the formation after a few minutes. The ring dimmed, its rotation slowed sharply almost stopping completely until it was just a crawl. Its light was like that of the faint glow of florescent paint. But in return, the man’s right hand shone faintly which then peaked in a fierce brightness. A Golden light it was, intense but I found it calming. There was no doubt in my mind that it held a power of the mind and may even be able to sway the mind from its owner’s path.

Moving his right hand to his forehead with his pointing, and index fingers straight and while he curled his free hand to a half open palm. The light seemed to concentrate to these fingertips after which he meets them with the centre of his palm left hand. There was beam of light which seemed to flow from a small halo which had formed on his right index finger. Then separating his right from left, he placed his left palm onto the earth.

A flash of light rose from the earth which forced me to raise my arms in defence from the brightness. It was truly spectacular.

As I turned back to the spectacle, an additional halo surrounded him. The shapes inscribed onto it seemed to want to leap from the figure as the constantly shift even more than the last halo. But as if to signal the climax of the event, He closed his right hand into a fist. The surrounding temperature seemed to spike in that moment. I could feel a heat shift around my stomach as if my body had reacted to whatever he did.

The ground shook.

He then it opened. It was empty before but now there was rock which shone like a small sun. No, it would be better described as the glow of the moon within the black night. The shiny crystal held that feeling of nobility. He then placed it next to his left hand which he thrust into the elevated earth. His whole hand up to his wrist seemed to meld into as it then sunk into the rock. lines of light formed on the ground which disappeared as quickly as they came. Moments later he took off his right hand and where there was only rock before now had a shiny translucent crystal ring.

“What was that is heaviness?”

I looked around. I thought it become difficult to breathe for a moment. But it was gone.

“I wonder what was that?”

I turned to face the ring with a gentle blue glow.

***

The surroundings seemed to slowly return to the one he had become familiar with yesterday. After a few second, he tossed me the ring. I caught it, this time without any hesitation. I examined it.

As I held it, a cool feeling seeped through my skin as if it was as if it was made with from transparent ice. At the sight of this, I was reminded of the weapons that were welded again us yesterday.

‘The two are likely related somehow.’

I then saw from the corner of my eye that the man motioned me to wear it on my right index finger. It was odd being asked to do this without knowing why. I had a few ideas for the ring’s purpose but either way I had to put it on. Therefore I did as to want was asked without any resistance.

***

Soon after this, He seemed to have restored the place to how it appeared before we arrived after we had eaten. The pillar sank into the earth. As he made what seemed to be a last round about the place, he grabbed a bag with what I assumed was filled with to be food and drink. I was tossed a similar bag. Upon closer inspection, the bag felt like a high-class leather and the opening was bound by a thick string and straps. Opening it confirmed  my assumption but it also contained some kind of cloth or fabric.

***

Some distance away from the clearing but still within short walking distance was a stream. It was convenient as my thirst had become unsettling. I confirmed that my hair was indeed  white and my skin took on a more ash brown-grey tone. I reached out to fill my cup with the clear liquid.

I must have been absorbed by my thoughts as it was only when I saw that the man took out one of the empty bottles to full it that I bought the cup to my lips.

The memory of the terrifying howl returned to my mind and thus I thought that it must have been the same for him. I quickly washed my face to distract myself…

 

***

The forest path was more pleasant than yesterday. As I walked, the mosquitoes which I grudgingly realised existed here yesterday were hardly as annoying as before. I wondered whether it was the ring that made the difference. The notion of a ‘magical mosquito repellent’ sounded ridiculous to me for some reason especial after the glamour it took to make it.

“Sigh…”

But my body did feel lighter than before despite not stopping to take a break even we did before.

It must have been hours from departing when we eventually came to a region which sloped sharply enough so to be able to see a sheer drop into a valley a few tens of metres away. The area was not as forested as before, which allow me to see more of the forest below. Though not as magnificent as before as the view space was significantly smaller, being lower down made me be able to appreciate the green rising hills in the distance emphasised by the valley’s which were etched at their feet. Once again I took notice of the current elevation. We sat, likely to allow me to cool off in this humidity. I slowly nodded at the site.

I slowly nodded in appreciation of the view. I had etched the sight within my mind and now I was doing the same to this one.

After some time, we had taken out some of the water to drink as it was easy to get dehydrated in high humidity. It was significantly higher than at the camp site and as we descended, it appeared to increase. I could deal with much. However, this also meant that the ground was becoming increasing moist which made my footing bad and my stamina drained had faster than before.

As we sat, I was lost in thought about the earlier scene. My mind darted across ideas even as I knew that I need more information. It is information that rules the world. With the right kind, even money comes easy and enlightenment can be reached.

So without a concrete base of knowledge about this ‘magic’ phenomena, it would likely be futile.

But I still couldn’t help my thought wondering to it.  As I visualised that scene, the words that were etched into the halo flash across my eyes. I could feel my stomach heat up and a similar sensation, though much weaker, pulsed through my skin.

As I visualised that scene, the words that were etched into the halo flash across my eyes. I could feel my stomach heat up and a similar sensation, though much weaker, pulsed through my skin.

‘Just what was that?!’

But as rapidly as it came, the feeling was gone…

No matter how many times it tried to evoke whatever it was again, I would fail. I gave up soon after realising that I likely would be able to force myself to do it anyway and instead tried to remember the events which lead me into this world. But I was interrupted before I started.

Apparently my break was over and it was time to continue. Since I rather enjoyed the time nature watching and contemplating as to the meaning of earlier feeling might have been I was satisfied and quickly rose to my feet.

But as I did, I hoped that such good feelings would last…

***

 

While we progressed, I glanced at my watch several times. last night when I tried to use my watch it staty off. Apparantly the power was low and I needed more time for it to recharge. But it had reached the point where it must have been close to dusk due to the noticeable decrease in the light. Eventually, we came across a particular treacherous strip of high land. While it did not look difficult to cross, the ground felt loose and combined with an abundance of mud and cliffs were terrifying.

The Man turned to face me, giving me a deep look as if contemplating the best course of action to act on. I truly wondered whether this path was always in such poor conditions but seeing such a face, it made me wonder that he may have not realised sooner the difficulty that it may have posed to me as he rubbed his head over his hand in annoyance.

What did this guy want from me? Was there any value in saving me?

I didn’t know and frankly, I had pushed down those questions until now.

“There is no such thing as a free launch” or as they say…

But I will take paying for my launch over becoming launch any day. That was certainly better than being cut up like meat. Or was it? However, I think I would be heartless to say that the world was only filled with actions that all had ulterior motives. Well, at least I could say this about my world… Whether the same or not applied here is something that I will have to assess.

Maybe the fate that I had was worse than being killed then…However, I think I would be heartless to say that the world was only filled with actions that all had ulterior motives. Well, at least I could say this about my world… Whether the same or not applied here is something that I will have to assess.

However, I think I would be heartless to say that the world was only filled with actions that all had ulterior motives. Well, at least I could say this about my world… Whether the same or not applied here is something that I will have to assess.

I knew that it was illogical to feel such but emotion is any but logical. It was slight but I felt a bit pathetic… To feel otherwise I guess would make me a bum after getting saved, given food and even protection.

I throw a glance at him as he observed the area closely for some reason. I knew that though my thoughts were logical, I felt a bit pathetic…

I guess to feel otherwise would make me a bum after getting saved, even after given food and protection.

“Right…I will be okay.”

“I’ll get through this…”

He quickly came to a decision and reached out to me which I understood from before that he would carry me over his shoulders.  The movement was swift and there I was again, same as yesterday.

He didn’t waste any time accelerating, much to my displeasure. The scenery blurred for an instant as the colours because melded together. But in that instant, my ear tickled as if it was hit by a warm breath. It was only for an instant that I believed to have smelled a sweet fragrance not unlike that of a sweet fruit.  Within that instance was a voice was pleasing to my ear. Even within that faction of a second I heard her whispers, clear and without imperfection but filled with a mischievous tone. At her words, my thoughts halted and my body stiffened. Soon after and at the corner of my vision, something leaped from the underbrush. In my panic, I attempted to move but there was no way that my body could keep up with my thoughts.

The next instance that I was aware of was my feeling of weightlessness and a slowly revolving world. The sky became the ground and span around as if it was stirred as one would stirred a cup of tea.

‘Crack’

Following that sound was a blackened vision, which was restored as quickly as it came. My body collided into something. As I came too, I felt it being dragged downward. Panicked but still somewhat sensible, I instinctively tried to slow myself by clutching at whatever was in reach. When I made sense of my vision, I could see that I was sliding down an incline at quite a rate.

But in front of me, the ground vanished and a horizon spread out…

“Cliff!”

I dug my feet into the muddy ground.

“Ahhh!!!”

My ears were filled with shouting that I only soon realised to be coming from none other than my own mouth. I tried to slow down by using my legs and arms to grab whatever I could grab on. But the inclined had surprisingly sparse of such things. In the process, I smashed my arm into a tree trunk, which caused an intense pain to shoot from location.

As the edge approached quickly, I was unable to turn my head away even as I heard someone call out to me at the edge of my awareness. It was a deep sounding yet uneven voice that was laced with anxiousness.  Though the words were quick, I was surprised that I could make out some of them. Then at the corner of my vision, a bright light surfaced. But I had not the time to see was it was as at that moment. Ten metres without delay became one and then I was left wanting when that final feeling of solid ground left. My heart sank but yet I was airborne.

As I fell, the words I heard earlier echoed in my mind:

*sniker*

” If you think it will be so easy…”

“Think again!”

 

 

 

 

 

Li ch 3

We walked through the stifling humidity under a canopy patterned the ground in shadows. The forest had grown thicker since we entered it what seemed to be a few hours ago. The blocked out sky removed most of my sense of time.

I had begun walking on my own. The overlapping crowns of trees formed a vast canopy that gave off a similar feeling like one I visited a certain South American country when he once went to visit a colleague due to work.

“I can’t make head or tails of this place…”

I tried to maintain observant but this place was seriously pissing me off.

Maybe it was because I had no sense of direction.

No…

I had no sense of direction.

Full Stop…

But it was clear to me that we were going uphill due to the gradient of the soft ground. Then after what seemed to be another hour, the ground became flat. Eventually, even the canopy broke in fragmented trees which soon lead to a hundred meter clearing. I stopped at the site, with my tired feet.

A few metres from the clearing were cliffs. As we walked closer a vast panoramic view of overlapping canopies underneath appeared. It was breath-taking. It really was…

Part of the canopy broke into plains. Other parts had a rocky landscape which further melded with sharp cliff and luscious trees.word untamed.

Untamed…

Scenery like this…

I wonder if I could find such a place back home?

A small but kind smile appeared on the man’s face.  It was then that I noticed that my mouth was slightly ajar. It was not just that the view,  There was something special about here. There was a calming power in the air. I could just sense it… I somehow understood that the spot I was at was special for some reason. But that might have been my mind playing

This place was special for some reason. It reminded me how small I was in my life. But it made me realise just how vast the world could be.

But it also made me realise just how vast the world could be…

But even if that was the case, doesn’t that make me small minded? I wanted to reject this thought. But I don’t think small means insignificant? Or is it?

The man moved to another part of the clearing and lightly stomped the earth. Accompanying the small rumble was a pillar of earth which rose from the ground.  It had the appearance of a cylinder that contained a roughly cut surface which looked like a door.

I was unable to get a proper look at what he was doing so I slowly approached the container. But I was stopped by something which was tossed in my direction.

I rose his hand to my face.

*puff*

Something landed at my feet. Whatever it was, it was wrapped up tightly. A delicious fragrance floated up into my nose. Blood rushed to my cheeks as I kept my sight I couldn’t see the man then but that the man’s pity  burned more than it should.  Such was the pitiful sight of a man cowering at the sight of a wrapped up meal.

I stooped and picked up the item. After unwrapping it, it appeared to be a type of dried meat. My stomach growled even louder than just before I had arrived.

I didn’t think too deeply about it as it went down my stomach.

“A bit salty but it’s good!”

While he was preoccupied with eating, the man took of some metallic looking objects. Then he tossed one to his side. There was an audible clang. Maybe the food eased me so I was okay this time. I grabbed the cylindrical object. He examined it and saw that there was a screw lid on the top.

“Is this some kind of flask?”

The container didn’t have a finish on it but, it looked rather new as there were no signs of corrosion on it. The warmth of the flask entered my hands.

“But how is it this warm?”

There was no sign of a fire or smoke around.

Well, that was the least of my worries anyway. I was still hungry so only its contents interested me.

“hmm… I wonder what is inside”

However, I could not ignore that metal’s lustre as I gripped the bottle. It was also hard yet was some elasticity.

 

As I got more intrigued, I unconsciously suppressed my hunger until it reminded me of my current state again. I moved the container around, Try pulling the top off, twisted it, then tapping it with my finger. Then a hand came down and twisted the lid opening it as which it placed it on the ground beside me. and went back to the pillar.

As I look up the man was returning to the pillar.

Now he must think I’m retarded or something…

Then I brought my attention back the bottle as I took a whiff of its the contents.

It smelled like alcohol…

***

By now this world’s sun was beginning to set and an orange hue was cast onto the liquid. I was hesitant. My common sense didn’t seem to apply here so my dulled sense of danger was fatal if it remained so I should be cautious. But not drinking it may insult my guide and that may be more pressing.

“Well… a bit should be ok”

I first sipped it.

It was not bad!

Contrary to my first thoughts, the alcohol content appeared to be low, maybe around 2-3%.

I drank about half of it before putting it back down.

From the size of the container, I estimated it to have originally contained about half a litre…

So that was more than just a little…

It tasted like a cider made from pineapples and golden apple but it went down like a refreshing tea!

An unusual drink to say the least but tasty nonetheless.

After I had finished most the drink, the fatigue I felt had rapidly diminished.

My body was still sore from all the walking but my mind felt especially sharp.

I was like the opposite of alcohol which made ones thinking sluggish and dull.

“What a mysterious beverage.”

But then as I was raised the bottle prepared to take another sip my hand stopped. I gazed into the liquid which held the reflection of a strange face.

***

It was dusk this one afternoon. On that day, I had found myself forced into a new world. Now on the ending of the very same day, I had yet to catch a break…

An image had formed on the reflection of the drink.

Without even thinking my voice leaked from my mouth…

“who is that?!”

But then slowly, it dawned on me as the reflection and I moved in perfect synchrony…

Looking closer, my face was largely the same except:

My hair was not black…maybe light orange?

My ears were pointed ear with…fur?

My heart raced and my pulse quicken.

“This is me?!”

No motion came from me until after a full minute.

 

I parted my head.

“such softness…”

Well, at least it was not all bad…

***

When I thought about it, the thought of my body somehow changed when I was transported to this universe didn’t seem impossible.

But it raised questions about the soul and consciousness that I couldn’t stomach right now so I left it as is.

what other changes were there?

I deal with that later was my response.

However, After glancing at the man by the pillar, It seemed that we were not to leave this area soon and it was important to know what other changes occurred with my body.

I took off my shirt and examined my upper body.

The fat that had surrounded my abs was gone. they were well toned. My pectoral muscles were well defined but not to the level of one who weight lifted.  However, my upper body generally how it was before apart from a few changes.

But as I was bout to remove his pants I noticed that the man eyed his with suspicion.

With a face as if to say…

What the fuck are you doing?

I froze within the arkwardness, my hands fixed onto my belt.

“…well that will have to wait”

I released my hands and the man left into the forest.

***

I watched as the man returned quickly with some fire wood.  He placed the on the ground and somehow a fire was lit.

I don’t get it…

Watching it, it might as well be magic, especially if I can’t grasp the principle behind its operation. All he did was place his hands on the firewood and it instantly burst into flames. Seeing this, I began to wonder if I could do it too.

But at the moment, the stark contrast of the bright flames of the fire to that of the unwavering darkness was striking. I got the feeling that I would get lost the moment I left from the site.

“Well, there no doubt that we will spend the night here.”

With some materials and his rock moving abilities he made a wind breaker and a tent. The atmosphere was very different from during the day as the forest became noisy. It appeared that most of the animals here were nocturnal. I guess this was the same as back home.

The disparity between the day and night was huge.

 

***

“……!!!”

In the middle of the night, my sleep was broken by all this a roar so loud that I literally leapt from the ground.

“……”

The night was silent unlike before I fell asleep. The huge wail had silenced the forest. Then after a minute of silence, the sounds continued once again.

“……?!”

Alertness shot up!

A few metres away I watched the man lazily opened an eye from his meditative stance and got up to face the cliff.

Since I could only see he back he could not tell what face he was making.

I felt the not earth shaking but it was his own trembling.

‘what kind of animal can make such a demonic sound?!’

The Sky was still dark. The moon was last crescent. In the faint light I could feel an uncomfortable sensation being emitted on his back.

I stood and went to see want the man was watching. All I could see was the black outline of the cannopy and gray sky. Since I couldn’t see anything, I went back to the camp to try to rest despite my terrified condition. However, I thought it was wise not to fall into a deep sleep.

Li ch 2

“Where am I…”

The surroundings were dark; the surrounding scent held that of somewhat musty stink.I knew that I was moving. On the walls were bands of bright and dark streaks similar to an interference pattern. It was as if I was watching a rerun of a movie…

‘This is-‘

‘Ah…’

I remembered that earlier that day I was to retrieve something but what was it?

I had for some reason, ended up in that strange space…

apart from the walls, it looked the same as any alley yet-

It gave off an air of forbiddance. like I wasn’t allowed to be there. But, who reaches such an unusual place by going through alleyway across the street?

I watch as I went deeper and then…

Then I saw them…

Next to a long smooth metalic plate with an uneven surface was…

Was?

There was something else…

“what was it again…”

But then my thoughts were greeted with a great pain…

My thinking became more muddled and I struggled to remember my former actions. But the colour ‘white’ stood out. As if in sync with my memories I had reached out to grab something that fluttered into my sights.

“…A white rag?”

By now I had arrived at the strange slab of metal and stooped to inspect the object. My vision narrowed, my range of sight limited to the slab.

scattered on its surface was scribbling like that of some unfamiliar language…

But even though it was unintelligible to me, my pulse quickened.

Somewhere deep within, something told me I should ignore it…

***

When I opened my eyes, my vision was a mess. It was like being trapped in a three dimensional ping pong machine.

It was only after a few minutes of becoming more accustomed to the rapid jerking did it become evident. The former brown and greys were replaced by darker greens. Trees,though separated by many meters were frequent enough that their shadow blocked quite a bit of light.

Being held like a sack of items on the guy’s shoulder was uncomfortable and the sensation of moving so quickly and erratically without a clear sight where I was going was very stimulating to my stomach.

Whatever I had downed for lunch before being suck into this insane situation, I had forgotten but at this rate, it was going to pay me a reminder…

*Burgh!!!*

I can’t imagine that anyone would take pleasure in vomiting or be vomited upon but I couldn’t care less.  Apparently so too did my human transport, as he continued to move as if nothing had changed. This surprised me.  Slowly the land mophed into one into gentle slope with undulations.

***

For a while my mind went white, and a strange fatigue wrap around my conscious. I felt incredibly tired. Though my eyes and ears ‘worked’ and I could still register sensations fom the outside, I felt dead and they couldn’t reached ‘me’.

My body felt disconnected from the rest of my being. I ignored a strange questioning eye that was shot to me as he after he placed my listless body onto the cold earth.The man gave a look as one would when waiting for something to happen.

I didn’t care fo anything…

But as I remained still, my mind numb it focused on a faint rhythmic thumping of my pulse as it echoed my ear.

“Ah…”

My lips trembled. The fear I felt smoldered within my heart but at the moment it flame had died. all I felt then was the joy that I overcame that ordeal.

I felt a joy that I overcame that ordeal.

With some traces of hesitation or resistance, my mouth moved.

“I’m still alive..”

But as I spoke I then noticed a man walking away then stoop down to sit on the back of a nearby boulder.

And to be honest, remembering his existence made me shiver as I had recalled his combat power. This was a man who could possible kill me at any time without even breaking a sweat.

Numerous questions then began to flow into my mind as if to make up for the time where my rational thought had stalled. However, a sense of accomplishment at my survival remained.

***

I have watched a few movies and comics about some people being transported to a new world. As fantastical as the story premise was, it was a refreshing part of a hard life of being a freelancer doing what I do. And doing what I do is hard…

But wasn’t this ridiculous? The point of fiction is that it couldn’t occur for real right?

“…Right!?”

…Then again fiction does have a strange way of transforming into fact over time.

“Is that not the case?”

I live a busy life. A friend once called it hard but before I knew it, such was the life I lived.

Occasionally, I would read fiction so to get away from my problems for a while.

But maybe I had pissed of some god by doing these, trying escaping reality, so as to punish me it forced me into a weird world like this?

“But, this makes no sense…”

I kept mumble on absorbed into my own world as I often tend to do.

“Maybe this is a reward? Or was I called forth her to do something…”

Maybe under a different scenario I would have been more welcoming but after seeing death in the face again, I can say that this place is possibly extremely dangerous.

While it’s nice to read about trail and tribulation of other, experiencing them is a different matter altogether. It was the different between reading about climbing a snowy mountain and actually climbing a snowy mountain.

Objectivity and safety is non-existent in the latter. The benefit of hindsight only applies to  survivors.  Even if it was premature to celebrate, I could not help be happy.

It was premature to celebrate. I could not help be happy.

I could not help be happy.

But as I slipped back into thoughts I felt I had forgotten something.

***

My head cleared up after a while. I couldn’t figure out anything… but I had

All this thought yet I had not checked to see if I was in one piece.

I slowly stood. I inhaled deeply patted I body. It felt the same as always. The texture of the clothes I had on was mostly the same apart from the grimy feeling. It was a given that both his arm and legs

I inhaled deeply…

My body, though somewhat sore felt like usual. looking down, I wore a long pair of black jeans which was coupled with a pair of simple sneakers that was not worth any mention. The clothes I had on was mostly the same apart that they felt tighter. The t-shirt I had worn from morning was also simple, just a uniform brown shirt with no design. In other words, completely plain…Even the watch attached to his arm was there.

But I sighed in relief as everything was still attached and my body was in one piece. Even my watch was present.

That watch was pretty important to me so I was quite happy that it appeared to be working as I fiddled with the controls. it would likely be quite useful in the future.

I had left my bag at my office so I didn’t expect to see it. Well, it would not have mattered anyway.

But then as I placed my hand over my face…

It was different.

“Huh?”

“What’s this?”

“What this on my face?”

He thought the feeling was his imagination but it really felt off.

It felt rough. Like a course beard. Not only felt but the unique sound when scratching facial hair was unmistakable.

I never had such thick facial hair before.

As I move my hand to I cheeks I also felt something else was off…

 

“Don’t tell me something off with the other part of my face!”

But as I reach for my ears, I stopped…

The body which had been resting next my had begun to stir stood up.

***

I quickly turned to him. The motion was so fluid that while in, in actuality, the man causualy placed his hand on his knee and rose from his resting position, I could tell that such movement was unusual.

I could not explain it but it just seemed so…

Instantly I realised my folly, which was that I had forgot about the guy right under my eyes. How what that even possible?

Maybe it was that I had unconsciously accepted him as harmless without realizing it. But I felt as if that conclusion was wrong.

It was as if his presence suddenly swelled as he got up. The the oppressive feeling from before that was absent flared but then vanished quickly.

As I decided to be blunt and give my thanks.

“Thanks for saving me!”

I looked at the man as he stared back in silence. He wore a stern face, as one would make as if pondering some mystery. I continued:

I continued:

“If you do not mind, could you tell me where this is?”

There was another short pause but this time, the man broke his stern face into a more serious one. He then spoke…

But the words which came out was unknown to me.

‘what langauge what that?’

Another moment of silence passed before the man spoke to me again.

“@#$%#@    @#$@ @#$%^#”

“…Figures”

“…Damn”

I stretched my head. My hands paused. Another change The soft hair felt quite good on my palms.

‘Another change…’

Though,the soft hair felt quite good on my palms.

A foreign world would have its own language. No, it would be truer that I was the foreigner.

“It was worth a try though. Can’t expect a fiction like resolution. I already experience good luck and I can’t be greedy.”

However, without the ablitiy to communicate, my prospects are slim.

“Shit…”

So Starving is a real possibility?

Without a source of food, death was a certainty. With a world which seemed to be able to support ridiculous physics and matter manipulation, I would not even be surprised if this world has a few man eating monsters like dragons. And even worse was that I had no means of avoiding or even defending myself.

Fear crept up. My blood ran cold for an instant.

‘…This is ridiculous!’

Now I looked up to the man’s face.

I understood that my only lifeline was truly this man. But we couldn’t even communicate. That is far less than convincing him to help me,

I suddenly felt dizzy. I placed his hand on my forehead. Sweat also ran down my back.

But as if to empathise my powerlessness, the man began to walking slowly away.

As if by reflex I reached out to him with a hand. But the words go stuck in my throat. Paniced or Not, it was too late to recall my hand so I chose to speak.

But I stopped. As if sensing his thoughts, the dark skinned belligerent looking man stopped then slowly moved his hand and pointed towards the direction he was facing.

****

“he want me to follow him!”

I barely maintained my calm.

“I wonder where this will lead me…”

I walked toward the direction indicated. As I did, so did he.

***

Li ch 1 pt 4

“-This is!?”

My body froze as his cold eyes locked on to me.  It made me bite my lip in frustration. Disgusting wave after. That snake like glare shrunk me to that of to the likes of a frog.

Then in a fraction of a second, this glare intensified greatly, and I found it harder to breathe. I vaguely saw something like a faint glow like that of luminescent smoke surrounding him. A sense of crisis welled up from my gut, that this feeling was an indication death.

The indication of imminent death!

***

Helpless and powerless!

‘This Unfairness!’

I wanted to escape this reality and deny it was with all I had! I could not accept it! Not this, I didn’t want to die like this…

If I was to die then it would be of my own hand!

That tiny bout of willpower brought back something. That spark ignited something hot within me and instantly revived my rationality. But as it did so, I was doused with an icy reality check.  My mind raced to think of a solution. Even as it was unlikely to succeed, I didn’t want to die.

The man readies his weapon while I readied my mind. I could feel all the tension in my body leave, but yet I curiously remained standing. But at the time I had realised this as I forced my eyes to remain open in hope to catch whatever movements he may have made. I had dropped my body centre of gravity without realising. However, as if reacting to this, the opponent vanished.

Between us was only about a few yards.While I couldn’t see him my body moved. It was a vague sensation but it was enough to spur my body into action.

My muscle ripped and tensed, My lungs exploded as hot air was forcibly expelled. My power blasted out of my back. The tension was guided through my waist and down the hips, legs and then, only then into the ground.

“Ahhhh!!!”

I propelled my body was propelled towards the unknown.

***

The idea had shone brilliantly at the moment. I was resolute. Hesitation was non-existent. But even if that was the case, the thought of my rotting corpse on this unknown soil almost took away his attention. Almost…

‘I am the fastest!’

‘I am the strongest!’

‘I will not die here!’

‘I will survive this!’

I somehow knew that my mind was reflexively removing distracting ideas while trying its hardest to bear with the pressure. I knew I was grasping for that slim chance where everything would be ok. But I knew that it was overwhelmed more likely to be cut down right here!  It was enough…

As I became airborne I instinctively closed my eyes. However in that second, for a second I thought I saw him right in my face with his sword arm raised in a high stance about to come down!

I forced them open!

But now in my sight was something different. He was in front of me. The world was still.  It was subtle in this serene world of silence. His sword was gone. It was out of sight. In that short span of time, he changed his handle of the blade from that which seemed aimed toward the vertical slash to that which I couldn’t tell.

My mind could process information any faster. The sword  was out of sight but I still felt in critical danger.

But it was ok. I had tried…

***

*Thump!*

My body fell onto the dirt. My neck was bloody. I fell hard and crashed into the ground.

My body laid on the ground. Was I was dead? or was I alive? Then I felt that my neck was still attached!

Was I was dead?

or was I alive? Then I felt that my neck was still attached!

Then I felt that my neck was still attached!

*Omph*

Behind him was the bare fist fighter.  But he didn’t leave any time for pleasantries and got straight to business by grabbing my collar, once again. However, he placed me onto his shoulders in one fluid motion.I felt an acceleration even greater than that of a high-performance sports car. At the same time, the rocks underneath his feet blasted and the world once again became blurred.

Li chapter 1 part 3

The reverberation of my vocal chords died slowly, the words weight could still be felt even after I shut my lips. I somehow knew that I was the most surprised from my own outburst.

But the response of the others to that was certainly unexpected. I watched as one of the two pair of eyes on me widened in surprise. In contrast, the other remained calm but conversely narrowed his eyes as if coming to a sort of understanding or resolution.

…That was not a good sign at all.

While my venting did help to lessen my stress, I somewhat regret it.

But why such a reaction?

 

The distance between us remained unchanged and formed a fragile standoff. I felt the composure of my associate grow firm, probably as he too had made some decision. Regrettably, I was forced to rely on his grace.

‘Damn! This is mortifying!’

The equilibrium shattered in an instant. The temperature of the atmosphere plummeted as one of the gazed on me ‘changed’. I instinctively jolted my body a step backward.

 

Now, my ‘somewhat regretting’ had become ‘truly regretting’ at this point.

‘huh?’

In only a moment he vanished. A barely audible pure metallic ring whistled above my head which at this point was not much further from the earth. My butt was pressed to the hard earth, with a faint pain originating at the base of my spine. Though my vision was cast to the rocky earth, I could feel a presence above me. My eyes fixed on the shadows over the earth.

Then an earth shattering rumble together with a loud dull grating sound exploded over my head.

It was only then that looked up at my assailant. My eyes became fixated to him.  He had a mix of metal armour like that from the Roman legion and a flowing garment like that of religious robes from Japanese kimono together with catholic priest wares. The armour had Black, golden and silver metal that surrounded his forearms, shins, parts of the chest and head while cloth covered the rest. If it was any other time I would have been able to appreciate the workmanship of the pieces as they were was quite beautiful.

But such a thought did not enter my head. My vision which once scanned his body fixed on the pole arm weapon whose shaft was broken into two piece connected by a chain.The strangeness of the sight struck me deeply. The blade was made of a type of substance I could not identify by sight…

I quickly shook my head to focus my mind…

As if to contrast with the beauty of the weapon, between the two of us were two pillars of earth which appeared similar to a stalagmite jutting from the ground. One was faced at angle and had a crumbly top with the other one being purely vertical, and having a Plain but unnaturally smooth surface.

As if seeing the first pillar I became aware of the pain that was not there before.

Something swiftly kicked the polearm as he leaped into my area of vision using his right leg. With his grandiose entry, the dark skinned man heavily dropped his foot onto the ground and another tremor rocked the earth which a similar grating sound accompanied it.

*Clang!*

I could not help the long shriek that came from my mouth at the sound of the loud ringing from behind. These blasted guys had long realised that I was a weakling and were using that to their advantage. I reflexively turned to see a sword a foot away from me, stopped by a wall of earth. It hardness was likely nothing to scoff at as the blade looked firmly stuck inside.

But then, it produced a faint glow after which slowly cleaved through the pillar. I squirmed away, like a dog dragging his butt on the ground using his arms to drive me backward.

“Tsk”

The wall was decimated without much trouble and the image of the man came into view.  He clearly showed his displeasure the failed manoeuvre. There were clear lines of annoyance on his face. In his hand was the long semi-clear blade which resembled the polearm. While he dwelled in silence, he locked eyes with dark skinned man.

Then two more pillars of earth attacked him but I stared in wondered as they are quickly cut down. A third appeared but the blade wielder decided to retreat a few steps away .The staring contest continued for a few seconds, then as if to signal the end, the man blow frowned. I could feel as if something had change after that instant.