Chapter 3 - The Mysterious Ring
Lin Mu found himself in a dark place once again, but this time he can see his body clearly even though there was no source of light present there. Lin Mu, clearly having no idea how he ended up there, felt scared and couldnt help but ask himself if he was back in a dream.
"How do I get out of here Should I just wait till I wake up naturally ...Since Im here, I may as well walk around and check this place out."
After being in the dark place for a couple of minutes now, Lin Mus eyes start to adapt to the darkness and could see things more clearly. Looking around in all directions, he found a pale glow of lights coming from one position and decided to walk towards it; trying to find out what it was. While walking towards the pale glow, Lin Mu observed some changes to the dark sky.
"What are those faint streaks of light in the sky Ive never heard of phenomena like this before, guess Im definitely in a dream."
There were silver and grey faint streaks of light in the sky, which would fade away into darkness and then appear again. Thousands of them could be seen, as if they were dancing in a mysterious harmonic pattern. After a few minutes, Lin Mu reached the source of the pale glow that he observed from far. Finally seeing the object - he found it to be an altar, but it was made up of faint glowing runes and mysterious scripts which were floating in the air; forming the shape of an altar, not having a physical presence itself.
"Those runes and scriptures look similar to the ones that were carved on the outside of the ancestral temple of Wu Lim city. But arent they used by cultivators to make qi formations Why would they appear in my dream"
Lin Mu still remembered when he visited Wu Lim city with his father during the New Years festival two years ago. His father brought him to the ancestral temple to pay their respects, but commoners could not go inside the temple so they paid their obeisance from outside. He remembered his father finding him staring at the carvings on the ancestral temple. His father explained that those carvings were used to create qi formation by qi cultivators, which were used for various things such as fortifying, strengthening, offence, defence and many more.
As Lin Mu approached the altar, the various runes and scriptures became more vibrant. Feeling an urge to touch it, Lin Mu placed his hand upon the altar and found it to be solid even though it had no physical body. A moment later he felt a sharp pain in his head, then felt a rush of information in his brain; mysterious chants filled his mind, creating an imprint in it.
"The Nine Divine Heart Sutras, assimilate the essence of the nine paths, understand a million hearts as one and ascend the path of the great cosmos."
As soon as the chants stopped in his mind Lin Mu found himself back in the old hunting shack. For a moment, his eyes lost focus and he remembered where he was. Checking his body and finding everything normal, he tried to remember the chants that filled his mind; only able to remember one part of them. He tried to remember the rest of the chants but felt as if there was a fog obscuring his memories.
"I can only remember the first part: The Calming Heart Sutra. Should I recite it There should be no harm in trying..."
Lin Mu started chanting the calming heart sutra. At first he felt nothing, but after completing the first chant he felt a calming wave spreading all over his body; as if all his worries were washed away. This incredible feeling lasted a couple of minutes before fading away and the normal sense of self returned to Lin Mu.
"What an incredible feeling. I felt as if I could sense every part of my body clearly, the blood flowing and the small waves of energy in my muscles. I need to try this again."
Reciting the chant once again, Lin Mu felt the calming feeling washing over his body. This time he tried to sense the waves of energy that were moving in his muscles. As he focused on the waves of energy, they intensified and then he felt a great feeling of strength filling his body even more than this morning when he put on the mysterious ring.
"Haha, I broke through to the fourth stage of body tempering! What luck, two breakthroughs in one day! This chant is definitely a body tempering technique, and sensing the similar wave of energy when I put on the ring, I guess that is where it originated. This ring is definitely a treasure, or could it be a spatial storage ring that qi cultivators use"
Now, Lin Mu did not want to sell the ring at all. Only a fool would let go of an opportunity like this which he knew would only bring benefit to him. As for whether the ring was a spatial storage ring, he could not verify it as he was not a qi cultivator yet; nor did he know how he ended up in the dark place with the altar made of glowing runes and scriptures.
Thinking that he may be able to fulfil his long-lost dream of becoming a qi cultivator one day, he felt excitement he had not felt ever before and all the feelings of sadness and despair from yesterdays events washed away.
"If I become a cultivator, Ill be able to buy back my house and I will no longer have to live with my head down! Ill be able to walk proudly with my head held high, and the townsmen will have to treat me with respect."
Now knowing the direction in life that he was supposed to walk, Lin Mu was filled with determination. Still, he knew that if he wanted to become a qi cultivator he would need a lot of resources like herbs and fierce beast meat rich in vital energy. He could not hunt beasts which had rich vitality in the forest as he was not strong enough and would simply be courting death. He could trap smaller beasts, but they will only fill his belly and would not be of much use in tempering it.
"I guess Ill just have to make some traps and catch some small fierce beasts like the black horned rabbits and thorn tailed rats. Even though they dont sell for much, I can still exchange them in town. Ill need to start somewhere so I can save at least until I have enough coins to buy a weapon sturdy enough to kill stronger beasts."
Lin Mu went in search of small animal trails where he could set up some traps. Upon finding one, he used the vines growing nearby and some slender, flexible trees to set up snare traps. Now he just had to wait until something was caught. Feeling hungry again, Lin Mu saw the position of the sun in the sky and felt that he had two hours until sunset. Walking back to the apple tree, he plucked a few more apples for his dinner as he doubted whether he would be able to catch anything in the traps; and even if he did, going to the forest at night time would be dangerous even in the outskirts. If a stronger, fiercer beast decided to wander off it could mean his death, so he thought it would be better to just eat the apples again.
Walking back to the shack, he once again filled the pot with water, put the chunks of apples in them, and set it on the stone stove to cook. While waiting for the apples to cook, Lin Mu decided to chant the calming heart sutra once again. He felt the feeling of calmness spreading through his body, but did not feel the waves of energy that flowed through his muscles increasing; no matter how much he focused, they stayed the same.
"Huh, I guess the calming heart sutra only helps if I have the necessary vital energy in my body. It only helped me break through because I had the surge of energy that was released from the ring in the morning. Now that its depleted, Ill have to train and eat more food to slowly accumulate vital energy."
Thinking about the mysterious ring, he lifted his right hand to look more closely at the ring and its peculiar design. As Lin Mu focused on the ring, he suddenly felt a force pulling his hand. Shocked at this, his right hand was pulled towards a direction forcing him to walk towards there. Finally, Lin Mus eyes went wide as his hand was pulled up in the air where a rift opened and his hand was pulled in.