Chapter 5 - Success And Failure
Lin Mus hand was pulled into the rift. He felt as if it was dipped in water, yet it did not feel right; it was neither cold nor warm leaving him unable to tell what kind of substance it was. He moved his hand around, trying to pull it back out, but it felt like it was stuck. Lin Mu could move it around inside the rift with no restrictions, but could not pull it backwards.
His mind was going crazy at not understanding the situation he was in. Never having seen or heard about such a thing, he thought his hand may become stuck there permanently if he did not pull it out quickly. He tried shouting for help, but was very far from the town and there were no people nearby. He could only hope that a hunter passes nearby and hears his cries.
How do I pull my hand out! I cant just keep it like this, and it doesnt look like anyone will come help me anytime soon. Im much too far from the town and hunters dont come to this section of the outskirts to hunt either, since there arent any beasts worth their time here. Ill just have to keep trying.
Lin Mu was unaware that if any other cultivator saw his condition, they would be even more shocked than him. The spatial rift that was swallowing his hand could have barely even been opened by a Dao shell realm cultivator with the help of a spirit treasure and all their strength. Yet, here he was not even a cultivator and had barely just reached the fourth stage of the body tempering realm.
Neither did he know that tens of thousands of kilometres away from where he was, in the Sky Precepts sect, the star catching peaks disciples were in an uproar trying to find the location of the spatial disturbance they were detecting; since it had already been ten minutes after they detected it and it had not disappeared yet.
Lin Mu kept on moving around his hand in the rift, struggling to pull it out, when he felt his fingers touch something; being the first time he felt something solid in the rift. He tried to touch the object again but could not find it. It had now been fifteen minutes since his hand had been stuck inside the spatial rift and now he could see that the rift was getting narrower as if it was closing. Getting even more worried, he thought if he did not pull his hand out now it may be severed.
Frantically struggling, Lin Mu did all he could to try to save his hand when he felt his hand touch something once again. This time, he gripped the object firmly. As he held the object in his hand, he felt the hold of the spatial rift on his hand getting loose. Taking the initiative, he pulled violently one last time with all the strength of his body and finally his hand was pulled out.
Looking at his hand, Lin Mu ensured that it was fine and not harmed at all. Scrunching his eyebrows, he looked at the source of his current trouble: the spatial rift, and found it to be closing. The black tear in the spatial fabric slowly mended itself and closed, leaving no trace that it ever existed. Sighing with relief, Lin Mu slumped down on the ground and closed his eyes to rest; for this fifteen minute long struggle had thoroughly tired him out.
Standing up after ten minutes, Lin Mu dragged himself back to the hunting shack to eat and then sleep. The sun had already started to set and it would not be long until it would be dark. Reaching the shack, Lin Mu picked up the pot that was cooking the apples and started to eat; gulping down every last morsel in the pot. He lied down on the bench thinking about all the things he had experienced today.
The day had been full of ups and downs. First, he found himself in a black space where an ethereal altar existed, then received the Calming heart sutra which allowed him to break through to the fourth stage of the body tempering stage. He became excited over the prospect of him becoming a cultivator and fulfilling his dreams, when he suddenly found his hand dragging him away and then being swallowed by a spatial rift.
He then felt the terror of his hand getting stuck inside the rift and the potential of it getting severed until he felt an object inside it, up until he could finally pull his hand out. Speaking about the object, he did not find it in his hand when he pulled it out. It had somehow disappeared with him not understanding where it went. Pushing the thoughts to the back of his mind, he decided to sleep and deal with everything tomorrow.
Sky Precepts Sect; Star Catching Peak:
The Disciples were working tirelessly to find the location of the spatial disturbance. Even after fifteen minutes, they were not able to narrow down to an approximate location. There were twenty-five disciples sitting at their respective positions on the formation array, controlling it to trace the spatial disturbance; all with sweat on their foreheads after trying their hardest, especially after Elder Han personally asked them to do their best in finding the location. That, too, at the behest of the Sect Patriarch himself. All of the disciples were the cream of the crop in the sect, having been chosen for their position after rigorous tests.
A grey robed disciple sat at the helm of the array. He had a crest sewed on the left side of his chest showing a mountain with a flat disc above it and a meteor striking it. This was the crest of the Star Catching Peak. Every disciple had it sewed on their robes, with the head disciple having it in silver thread while all other disciples had it in black thread.
Suddenly, the formation array started to dim down, prompting all the disciples sitting on the array to put all their qi into the formation to make it last just a few minutes longer. Alas, it completely vanished and the spatial fluctuations disappeared. The Head disciple took a lengthy sigh, looking at all the disciples who were now tired and drained of their qi. A junior disciple stood up from the array and walked toward the head disciple, cupped his hands in greeting, and said,
"Senior Li Jing, we were unable to find even an approximate location of the spatial disturbance, please punish us for this failure."
The head disciple having a look of disappointment, let out a sigh again and said,
"You all are not at fault here. This was a very difficult task. Whatever the anomaly was, it could evade the world border. Its already a miracle we were even able to keep the formation active for fifteen minutes. Ill report everything to Elder Han myself, Im sure hell understand our circumstances."
The other disciples also stood up and cupped their hands in gratitude to the head disciple Li Jing.
Li Jing pulled out his communication jade and contacted Elder Han about their failure in determining the location of the spatial disturbance and also informed him of the approximate area in which the disturbance may have originated.
At this time Elder Han was in the mission pavilion, talking to the pavilion elder in-charge about issuing the new mission to the disciples and also to select suitable disciples who would be going to investigate the spatial anomaly. Elder Han felt the communication jade hanging on his waist buzz again.
He held it and listened to the report from the Star catching peaks Head disciple Li Jing and his apology for not being able to find the exact location. Honestly, he was surprised they could even keep the formation active for as long as fifteen minutes and still be able to detect the fluctuations.
Although all the disciples of the star catching peak were at core condensation, with the head disciple being at the peak of core condensation realm, controlling the star catching peak formation array for so long would have completely drained all the disciples of qi. He told Li Jing not to worry about any punishment and told him that they did well. Even though the approximate area they narrowed down was still three-fourths the size of the northern lands, it would still reduce the time required to investigate the anomaly.
Neither elder Han nor the star catching peak disciples knew that the formation stayed active for over fifteen minutes not because of the disciples effort but because the spatial rift that tore open lasted for that long, otherwise they may have found nothing at all.
Lin Mu, completely oblivious to the machinations happening tens of thousands of kilometres away from him at the top tier sect of the Great Zhou Empire, was currently deep in sleep. As Lin Mu slipped into deep sleep, he once again found himself in a familiar dark space.
"...Why am I here again"