Chapter 2 - Awakening
In space, millions of kilometers away from the world Lin Mu lived in, a grey orb of light was traveling at a great speed. It was as if it was fading in and out from reality itself, passing through obstacles, like asteroids, as if they were air.
After an unknown amount of time, it approached a blue planet; eventually falling into its atmosphere. The ground was becoming closer and closer, small continents expanded to a vast length, mountains rose to a great height. In the end, the grey orb collided with an insignificant tree; somehow only shaking it entirely. The orb then faded away, leaving behind a rusty grey ring embedded halfway through the trunk.
In his sleep, Lin Mu found himself in a dark place. He could not see anything at all. Strangely, he could feel his arms and legs, even touch them, but he still could not see them.
"Where am I? Is this a dream? I've never had a dream like this ever before."
He walked around in the darkness for what could be a few minutes or possibly days; having no method to measure the time. Eventually, he woke up because of a sharp pain at the top of his head. Looking around, he found himself lying below a familiar apple tree, where a small apple had fallen beside him. The sky was slowly getting brighter, and the sun hidden below the horizon had not risen yet.
"Huh, looks like this apple fell on my head and woke me up. That's strange though, this apple is still unripe; why did it fall?"
Standing up, Lin Mu stretched his arms and looked up at the sky, estimating that it's likely around 5am. He went up to the small stream to drink some water and quenched his thirst. After quenching his thirst, he felt his stomach groan with hunger.
"I have to find something to eat. It would be no use going back to the town as I don't have any money left, the guards took away the last of which I had. Guess I'll head back to the tree and get some apples."
Walking back to the apple tree, Lin Mu looked for a ripe apple to eat. Spotting a few with his eyes, he began to climb the tree. Pulling himself up on a branch, Lin Mu then plucked some apples.
While getting down, Lin Mu spotted a glint on the trunk of the tree. Getting closer to inspect what it was, he found a curved rusty metallic piece stuck to the bark. He tried pulling it out but it seemed it was not only stuck, but very stuck. Putting his whole strength into pulling it out, it finally worked with the consequence of falling off the tree from loss of balance.
Looking at the object in his hands, he found that it was actually a rusty grey ring like one could find in a flea market. The ring had a peculiar design, having five small spurs equidistant from each other rising from one side of the ring.
"I don't think I've ever seen this before here on the tree. Did someone put it there? I may as well keep it, maybe I can sell it in the town later on."
Unaware of its origins, Lin Mu decided to put the ring on his right middle finger. As soon as he put on the ring, a chill went through him, followed by a warmth spreading from the ring to all over his body. As the warmth spread, Lin Mu felt energized and every cell in his body filled with strength. The process lasted for 10 minutes, after which Lin Mu opened his eyes and analyzed his body.
"What was that? I feel stronger, much more than ever before. Did I just break through to the 3rd stage of the body tempering realm!?"
Wanting to test out his strength, Lin Mu found a rock the size of two fists. He put down the rock, and punched it with all his strength. Only a slight chip fell off the rock, leaving some cuts on Lin Mu's fist.
"ARGHHH! DAMMNN, that hurt like hell! Why did I think this would be a good idea to test out my strength? But how did I break through and increase my strength, is it due to the ring? Could it be a treasure?"
Observing the ring, Lin Mu still thought that it looked the same as before; a rusty grey colour except that the ring now fitted him more snugly, as if it was made for him.
Lin Mu's stomach grumbled again, reminding him of his hunger. He had already plucked the apples from the tree, so he got some dried twigs and branches to cook the apples, knowing that eating them straight as they are, even if they are ripe, is not an option as they were very tart to eat. It would just leave him with his teeth hurting.
Still, to cook the apples, Lin Mu required a pot; so he decided to go to his father's old hunting shack to find one. Perhaps he could also use it to solve his current homeless situation. He could not always sleep under a tree in the open sky, could he? Winter would be arriving in a month, thus he would definitely need a roof over his head and some warm clothes.
Walking a few hundred meters towards the forest, Lin Mu found the old abandoned hunting shack. The shack was small and looked old and damaged by the elements.
Walking in, Lin Mu saw a few pieces of furniture, a couple of planks used to sit and also used as a bed, a small table, and a shelf. At the edge, he saw a small stove built with stone, and beside it was a small pot. He placed the branches and twigs that he collected and started a fire. He added water to the pot and placed the apples in it, which he broke into chunks, after which he let it cook.
10 minutes later the apples were cooked and palatable, no longer as sour as before. Lin Mu let the pot cool down before eating the cooked apples. After filling his belly, he felt satisfied and focused his thoughts back on the mysterious ring.
As Lin Mu focused on the ring, he felt a similar chill going through his body again and found his vision fading into darkness.