There was not a sound to accompany the beast’s arrival.
In his sight was nothing visible but a few feet.
But beyond he felt its stare.
There was not a sound to accompany the beast’s arrival.
In his sight was nothing visible but a few feet.
But beyond he felt its stare.
In this sensory desolate land, the only thing that he could reliable trust was the sound of this own breathing.
Not even this body was that he was born with…
His motivation into this place was one of survival, the irony of which was that he had been delivered into the jaws of the unknown.
But was this any different from anywhere else in this world?
Li was unable to tell how long he had walk since his earlier encounter with the strange beast…
He couldn’t stop…
A lone grunt traveled within the murky space. If anyone else was there it would have sounded like that of someone who had rudely awaken from sleep.
He rose as he pushed his body up from the forest floor.
Under a blazing sun, a hot and sweaty man dragged himself underneath an outcropping of shade.
In hand was a sizable tool bag and an empty bottle of water…
He wore loose casual fittings, a pair of jeans and a cotton suit with “Why Rush, Speed kills?” on the front.
Four days had pasted since Li enter the Green Sea.
It was a somewhat ‘quiet’ journey so far with nothing major happening.
Though he had felt many “eyes” on him, they kept their distance.
Though at first wary, what had eventually come to mind were several markings on his gear that Old wolf had mentioned to conceal him.
However, his face had grown unkempt underneath his mask meant to filter the air.
His body was caked in a thin layer of mud and decaying leaves, remnants of an earlier encounter with a unstable outcrop in a swampy region…
There a sharp transition in the surrounding area.
He froze as he felt it.
There had been a sudden temperature drop as if he had entered a layer of chilly air .
but then again, he still felt the humid warmth as he inhaled.
He felt as if a snake had coiled around his limbs and body.
As if being pressed by a weight in all directions, even breathing became more difficult.
Hesitation was clear as Li’s foot slowly touched the forest floor.
Only the faint sound of leaves entered his ears.
And there was nothing else…
Only a pure “Blackness” remained here…
Li’s sight had been immediately robbed.
He felt uncertain as to whether he should continue.
The only solace was that he was vaguely able to sense the surroundings with his sixth sense.
He could make sense of the information from this sense but only up to a feet. Anymore and the clarity after the limit dropped as the imaged swayed and crumpled chaotically
As he stood, his brain seemed to become more refined in interpreting information from this strange sense.
“…Just what is this ‘sight’?”
In this blacken world, he was still able to gather sensual information. B focusing, the mental picture became more clear.
But as he did, he felt a his mind become a bit hazy which were to him signs of increased mental burden.
“…I shouldn’t stay here for long”
His throat had become dried out, possible due to the long time he drunk water.
But it took him a few minutes to register this, however he refrained from drinking the water contained in the bottle at his side.
He felt a warmth raise within his wares.
Using the same ‘sight’, he could sense faint undulations along his skin.
The pressure lessened as the undulations became more defined, then suddenly both vanished as if cancelling out one another.
But a warning did come to mind regardless.
“Do not stay more than five days.”
He never told him why…
But Li now began to understand why this limit was imposed while in this harsh land.
Li rose his head to the canopy.
At his feet were vines that came into his sensory field from above.
On the ground, the butts of trees and their roots were as before.
At the least, this had not changed.
The first was heavy…
Then silence resumed its cacophony…
He could have seen just enough to edge forward.
But then he took out an item and placed it into a pocket on the back of his left glove. It was oddly shaped oval gem like stone.
He then concentrated on an image of the back of his hand.
Slowly the area that he could have sensed rose by a few feet, it had expanded to at least twice the size of what it was normally.
He had become a bit more relaxed as his ‘world’ had expanded.
However, a few seconds later, it fell back to half of its previous size few seconds for a short period of time before resuming its original range. He panicked as it had lessened beyond it normal range but again became calm when it returned to normal.
“…I got it. This is like an amplifier, isn’t it?”
But as he did he also noticed something as a dim source of light.
The dim light was something that had had to be looked out for while in this place.
Though it appeared different to what he thought it would like.
Old Wolf had again stressed this point.
He could feel a slight pulling force on the back of his glove towards the light.
He took steps towards the light.
Each step though small brought him closer to the light source until he found himself on its edges.
As Li entered the light, the direction of the pulling force changed this time to outside the sphere of the illuminated surroundings.
In the center of the area was a large crystal. Unlike outside, there was no resting spot.
From what he could see, the place gave of an archaic impression. Ancient trees rose beyond his sense. Their sizes could not be compared to those outside.
A slow hot and humid wind crawled, its languid movement whispered the very essence of quietness.
Some time later within the confines of the light, a burst of laughter of self ridicule would have been audible at its edges had someone stood there…
The fear of the dark.
It was something much more fundamental than that.
For it is never the dark itself that is scare but what lays beyond it.
Li knew this, but even at this late stage he still held doubts as to the necessity of this trip.
Sure he was forced but…
“Just how old am I!”
He bellowed at his apparent lack of courage…
He knew that he had gone too far in.
What was there to hesitate for?
It wasn’t like he was making any preparations to improve his safety now.
He was just wasting time…
“Just how old am-?”
A faint feeling of deja vu came up.
He remembered a time when he was younger.
At that time he was being ridiculed by his younger sister.
But at what would have evoked feeling of nostalgia, feeling of fear, guilt and longing also rared themselves.
Before he knew it, a his face had contorted into a strange expression.
“I wondered how she was doing?”
“No… This isn’t the time for this”
But a shook came through my system.
That it was no good.
I shook my head. A bitter laugh softly patted my lips.
“…How shameless of me”
It been three years and he had not spoke to her.
Though, this was not entirely of his will.
“…But when if get back, maybe I should try to get her.”
But was he blameless for him being here?
But he felt that this wasn’t the time reminiscing.
reminiscing wouldn’t change anything…
Li took a few breaths.
He once again activated the gem in his hand.
Again, he took in a few deep breaths.
He had walked to the edges of the light and the beginning of the darkness, in which the later parted leaving the area around of him to navigate.
As he left, the only words he left behind were…
The night had past and with it Li’s luxury for rest. He had awakened just before the last shard of light form the large crystal had faded.
The faint sounds of bird songs greeted him as he prepared to set out.
There was a sort of timelessness here, a sort of stillness that was inexpiable. This place different or that is what his sixth sense told him. But the feeling seemed to have faded with the night.
He had yet to recover all his stamina.
When he was done, he left the hut. As he stepped a few meters away, he stopped.
Li turned his head towards where he spent the night.
apart from the faint sounds of birds song, there was quietness.
After a few seconds he left…
Li made his way across the forest. As he did he began to sense more life.
He paused, he had felt that this difference was linked somehow with the strange rune like symbols within his sight. There they were, instead or smooth clearly structured runes were those that were clearly more dynamic and freely transforming runes.
but he felt none of the disgust towards it compared to that deathly forest.
Even as he thought he could only do so with shallow thoughts, as his attention was focused onto the surroundings.
But it was more uneventful than before.
It was midday one and a half a days since then…
He had just left another resting spot.
This forest held something akin to that deathly place. However, it was not as dense and overbearing.
If anything, it was more like a feeling of emptyness.
Like felt that this sparseness was gone and in its place, there was something like a presence…
He was unable to downplay the heavyness in the air as a sort of pressure slowing began to creep onto him.
He could feel his heart began to race.
But then he felt the force lessen somewhat.
Not sure as to what exactly sure of what to make of that, he instead felt it wiser to focus on finishing the task given.
he continued his tread…
The second resting spot appeared soon after the pressure had risen.
but as he appeared, the remaining pressure was gone.
The hut was in worse condition from before but one could see see that it required upkeep for it to have maintained its state.
Unlike before, he felt only some of the fatigue from before.
He took out some of the dried rations and eat the with some purified water he had gotten from a spring.
The air still held much of the humidity from the day as it would.
He felt its sticky heat as it loomed around him.
Li sat in front of the crystal.
He had not given much thought about the Hut or the bench on which he sat…
Only occasional mumbles escaped him as he watch the change in the glow of the crystal.
“The Three Gates”
Old Wolf had mentioned that within each person were points which were necessary to use manifesting arts and methods.
They were the gate of transformation, the gate of vibrancy and the gate of opening.
Old Wolf had mentioned that these three gates were the core of all beings capable of using tracing.
In humans, they were located within the liver, the heart and finally the brain respectively.
Old wolf was made a had wondered what was the significance of these areas…
Before he had left the underground library, he had been handed a book.
Li read it in his idle moments .
He recalled the contents from an explained given to him by wolf…
Within the underground library, Li had been briefly taught matters of the world he had found himself in largely centred around aspects of the forest and the tools he was given.
This briefing took place in a room similar to where he awoke. Around the two were shelves of books, which rose to heights which had surprised him when his fell onto them as they adjust to the dim lighting.
But this was just another place for Old Wolf to his books as held his usual stoic face.
Between the two was a short sword.
Li held it pointed towards him.
seemingly unfazed, Wolf carried on his monologue…
“Each gate is important…”
“Even one’s physiology is affected…”
“When these gates fail, the body fails”
“And when the body fails…”
“In a sense, the existence of these gates can be said to be proof that one exists in this world…”
Wolf’s words were, which should have been a guiding light had also lrgt him with more questions.
He was told that that all sentient beings possess the ability to use trace.
that all living things posses the power
various properties to this energy?”
“And as a result depending on which gates are controlled by how much?”
“Various outcomes are possible…”
Li could no longer believe that this trip was as tame as he was lead to believe…
in this world he needed to be able to understand this world.
He gazed at the crystal while being bathed by light not unlike on the first night”
“The intensity is changing …”
As he walked throught the forest toward his goal, he had noticed the change in the flora.
The large trees became more sparse but their trunks were larger. The trees gave a more ancient appearnace as the were think with moss which took what little light had manged to get lost withing the jungle such as these.
as he continued on, the few animals that he spotted dwindled with the passing of every few hours.
tilI the last was a day ago. now that I thought about it, wasn’t it strange to make me walk all this way if whatever he wanted was importance? Maybe safety wasn’t an issue but what about time?
The pressure had grown to the point that I was unable not to take notice of it. But it still wasn’t much trouble compared the the sinsiter air of this place. Long had the emptyness been driven out by it. But luckly a piece of the fragment that I picked up that appeared to reduce the chaotic nature around me. I thought I might have been useful and it had paid off.
The ground felt like cuhsions, The air felt invigorating…
I took out a clothlike mask and wore it. It was something I was told I absolute had to do when I felt as I did. Soon the feeling of elation died and I returned to how I was before.
“The air here. what a strange effect”
It was unnerving to experience this even after a heads up.
It was mig I walked into
“…This is riduclous”
It was as dark as night the only source of light came from the crystal in the close distance.
“…I’m supposed to get through this by using nothing but this thing”
he avoided using lights while here except the large crystal.
Like in the deep oceans, they may be more harmful tan helpful.
And if the past was to repeat, he would be drag in alot of things that i didn’t want.
A weight Lifted as Li eventually watch the pair leave.
They left hurriedly past where he could see them.
Only after a few minutes had passed had he felt that he could relax.
Were they truly gone and not just out of sight?
He didn’t know but he couldn’t stay hulled up at the thought.
His mind drifted to the first human beast being.
He himself had forgotten that he also held beast-like traits until triggered by the encounter.
But apart from this, he remained distracted for more than just a few minutes.
He just couldn’t forget that girl’s face.
Something about it held sway over his mind…
Soon darkness fell over the hut…
And Li, he recalled his own worse darkness…
But would she be the same?
Are rather was she the same as him?
“Why am I bothered about this…?”
Li had been trying to sleep for the last few moments. However, his mind would drift over to his past.
He rose from the straight bench.
He had never been a heavy sleeper.
He sluggishly looked towards some light that had been pouring into the holes in the hut.
The greater part of the night had past but more light shone from the crystal.
It had been the first night since he had entered the forest own his own.
He had first noticed a dim glow as the amount of ambient light fell.
The outpouring of light from these stones appeared to change over time.
It held “clarity” for the lack of a better word.
Unlike outside of the radius there was stability, he could see that surreal symbols stretched out across the land and everything within it.
Li felt it was best to keep the fact that he could see these symbols to himself.
Why did he not tell wolf?
His himself was not entirely sure himself.
The short spear and knife was next to him.
Li, now outside the hut, gazed at the crystal immersed within the sounds of the night.
He watched as the saw the light on symbols dimmed and brighten periodically.
He felt as if he had overlooked something about them.
He pulled out a book, a copy of the book he was made to read from.
As he couldn’t sleep, he decided to examine its exterior.
It was created with precision.
There were faint writing on the surface.
He had not see it before.
The space around these symbols on the book were different than the areas without them.
They held a sort of order or structure…
But after examining it for a few more minutes, Li exhaustion made him so that he could no longer couldn’t concentrate.
Even after a few hours resting, he again felt weak.
His breathing also became more rapid.
He placed the book back into a sac which was on the floor.
Li then went back into the hut in which he pull his back towards the wall.
He felt tired…
No longer quiet, Li somehow recognized the sound of a large animal in distress.
The squeal quickly grew much louder.
He carefully crept to the side of the room which he felt the sound was at its loudest.
The sound had came from behind the hut.
There were small holes in the wall, the size of small bottle caps.
So as he reached the respective wall, he peeked into one.
There was something running towards the hut.
As it came closer he recognized it as a type of boar.
As he looked onward, the animal tripped on outcropping roots from the ground.
It then hit the ground with force.
But as it quickly tried to stand, something leaped out from somewhere only to land on his back.
A loud squeal pieced through his ears. The animal became motionless after a brief spasm.
A laugh rocked though the air. His blood ran cold at its sound.
For a moment he was dazed.
The being continued to speak.
“You annoying pig!”
“Just drop dead aready!”
Out of the trees came something resembling a person.
While the form was the mostly human it held features looked like a cross between a feline and monkey.
But the voice held a feminine tone.
Also the being held largely human appearance.
She was only a little bit shorter than I was.
She also wore little clothing.
“Damn, that stupid beast wasted my time.”
She walk up to the body and remove whatever that was pinning it.
In hand was something long, like a spear.
She smoothly move it around in short arcs a few times. It look as if she had done so many timesbefore.
He barely caught sight of a motion before realizing that the beast struggles were no more…
She gave two swings and place the spear under her arm.
She reached down and took the body by its legs. Not bothered by the weight –
or so he thought.
But she was certainly stronger than he figured.
Could a human of her small frame and stature be able to lift that large beast in the air even for a few seconds.
Though she did drop it in the end.
Her arms and body became stained with blood.
Li became fixed on her face, the sight of the smile on her face even while covered in blood.
His heart rate rose but he could not look away even as a cold sweat form behind his nape.
A chill went down his spine and his instincts told him to stay away from her. It was as if this feeling was ingrain into his very blood.
Who was she?
Distracted, he had yet to had realize that her eyes came to rest on his.
Only after a few seconds did he see this.
Frozen in place he couldn’t utter a single word as a soundless yelp became caught within his throat.
She held a vacant look, Her ears ,longer and sharper than a regular human were not unlike beast ears. They twitched and turned as if searching for a noise.
Sweat ran down his brows and what was left became salt.
The moments that passed must have seemed to be eternities between themselves.
“…What is it?”
The silence was broken.
Her words cut through it like a soft thunder.
Something came out of the trees.
It was humanoid, taller than her but with more beast like look.
Covered in a thin layer of hair apart from what looked like clothing, he looked powerful as his body outline was muscle packed.
“We have to go back”
His voices was deep and rough.
She remained quiet but she stared down at her catch.
“I don’t get why you are so…”
“…What this? had she not noticed me before?”
Li’s felt relieved at this possible revelation.
But as he had relaxed, a roar cause him to almost trip in surprise.
As if something had snapped, the man voice blasted through the forest!
“Don’t play stupid with me. I already said that we are under lock down. You shouldn’t be out. If I wasn’t for the chief, I would not be looking for someone who seems to care so little for their own life. Even you know how merciless they can be.”
“I see… I do remember something like that. If The chief wants me back I can do nothing but go.”
“You stupid girl, You shouldn’t have gone in the first place!”
As she had turned away from the other person.
But as Li gazed at her, his heart began to beat loudly.
Only an almost inaudible mumble escaped his lips. He felt conflicted as he stood without moving, his mind drifted unintentionally to himself.
The change was too sudden…
All the energy she held while chasing the boar from earlier vanished.
What was left was something cold.
He honestly wanted nothing to do with her…
As he replayed that glare when she was spoken to, that look filled with coldness…
When he returned he noticed that she was watching the hut intently.
having again noticed this, his heart resume to beat heavily
“What is it?”
The man guard rose instantly.
He face remained on the hut, but then she looked confused as if something didn’t make any sense.
She shook her head.
“Did she notice me?”
Soon they both left and mended into the trees.
Li felt that he had seen something that he shouldn’t.