It was hot, humid and uncomfortable.
Li walked under a canopy which scattered the sunlight. They were bathed in the resulting shadows. Occasional sun beams littered the ground.
The forest had grown thicker since they entered it what seemed to be a few hours ago. The blocked out sky removed the only sense of time Li had.
He had begun walking on his own.
The canopy gave off a similar feeling of the a part of the amazon when he had visited a South American country.
“I can’t make head or tails of this place…”
The large trees and their overlapping crowns made it hard to distinguish their general direction.
He quickly became annoyed at that lack of direction.
But it was clear to him that they were going uphill due to the gradient of the soft ground, after which The ground became flat. Eventually, even the canopy broke in fragmented patches that soon lead to a clearing over a small field. They stopped at the site.
On the other edges of the clearing were were cliffs which oversaw a vast panoramic view of overlapping canopies underneath. Li’s breath was taken as it slowly came into view.
Part of the canopy broke into plains. Other parts had a rocky landscape which further melded with sharp cliff and luscious trees. The sprawling trees overtook the land. Rivers cut into them and waterfalls rose into the sky. Simply “Untamed Forest”.
Scenery like this…
The sight had cemented that this was no dream.
“There no way I could dream up something so beautiful”
He wondered if he could find such a place back home?
It made him again realise how vast the world could be, even if it was a different one. And in comparison wasn’t he insignificant?
But even as the earlier events played back in his mind he remember a few words spoken to him.
“But I don’t think small means insignificant? Or is it?”
Li had fallen into a shallow trance as he continue to watch the view.
A small but kind smile had formed on the man’s face. Li was unable to know that a resolution had formed as he gauged Li’s response…
Only after a few minutes did he notice that his mouth was slightly ajar.
“There was something special about here…”
He had felt better as he oversaw the land. He felt calmer. He felt as if there was a power in the air…
Li slowly shook his head and softly chuckled.
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.
Li slowly approached the container but was stopped as something was tossed towards his face.
Quickly, he rose his arms to prevent his face from being hit but the object had instead landed at his feet.
The package was wrapped up tightly. A faint but delicious fragrance floated up into his nose. Blood rushed to his cheeks from embarrassment as he took the item off the ground. Outside Li’s sight, the looked towards him with a look of pity.
The pitiful sight of a man cowering at the sight of a wrapped up meal.
After unwrapping it, it appeared to be a type of dried meat. His stomach growled even louder than just before he had arrived.
He didn’t think too deeply about it as it went down into his 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 low but audible clang. He grabbed the cylindrical object and examined it.
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.
Since he was still hungry so only its contents interested me and he lost interest in how it was heated.
“Hmm… I wonder what is inside”
However, he could not ignore that metal’s strange combination of elasticity and and hardness like a ‘Rubbery metal’.
He gripped the bottle.
I moved the container around, but could not open it.
He tried pulling the top off and twisting.
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 he looked up the man was now walked towards to the pillar.
The idea that he may have been branded an idiot…
His attention was quickly brought to the bottle as the vapours entered his nostrills.
It smelled like alcohol…
An orange hue was cast onto the liquid by the setting sun.
I was hesitant.
“Well… a bit should be ok”
After taking a sip, he quickly downed half of the flask.
Contrary to his first thoughts, the alcohol content appeared to be low, maybe around 2-3%.
“This is what… About half a litre?”
So that was more than just a little…
It appeared to be a cider made from pineapples and golden apple.
After he had finished most the drink, the fatigue he felt had rapidly diminished.
His body was still sore from all the walking but my mind felt especially sharp.
It was like the opposite of alcohol which made ones thinking sluggish and dull.
“What a mysterious beverage.”
But then as he was raised the bottle prepared to take another sip my hand stopped. he gazed into the liquid which held the reflection of a strange face.
It was dusk this one afternoon and an image had formed on the reflection of the drink.
Without even thinking his voice leaked from my mouth…
But then slowly, it dawned on his that it was his face.
Li had only noticed that though his face was largely the same, his ears had become pointed and his hair had changed from black to a light orange colour. His pulse quickened.
“…This is me?!”
He parted his head.
Li’s body had somehow changed while he arrived to this place.
However, After glancing at the man by the pillar who seemed busy, he took off his shirt and examined his upper body.
The fat that had surrounded is abdomen was gone. His pectoral muscles were well defined. In general, he appeared more fit than that he had remembered.
But as he had began to remove his pants, Li noticed that the man was watching his with suspicion.
“What are you doing?” is what his face seemed to say.
Li froze within the awkwardness, his hands fixed onto my belt.
He released his hands and the man then left to enter the forest.
It was not long before the man returned some fire wood. He then placed the on the ground and somehow lit a fire.
Li thought it was magic. If one can’t grasp the principle behind an operation, it might as well be magic.
The firewood burst into flames as soon as he had placed his hand onto their surfaces.
Li wondered if he could eventually do the same.
But for now the bright flames of the fire was a godsend to cast away the darkness.
“…there is no doubt that we will pass the night here.”
With some materials and his rock moving abilities the man had 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. Li guessed this was the same as back home.
The disparity between the day and night was huge.
In the middle of the night, his sleep was broken by all this a roar so loud that he literally leaped from the ground.
The night was silent unlike before he had fell asleep. The huge wail had silenced the forest. Then after a minute of silence, the sounds continued once again. The moon was last crescent.
A few meters away Li watched the man lazily opened an eye from his meditative stance and got up to face the cliff.
Hide from his sight was that the man face was gloomy and serious. But in the faint light I could feel an uncomfortable sensation being emitted on his back.
Li felt his body become unresponsive and broke out in uncontrolled trembling.
‘what kind of animal can make such a demonic sound?!’
Li, as tired as he was eventually went back to the camp to try to rest despite his terrified condition. But unlike before he had yet to fall into a deep sleep before day broke.