Anda remained sitting on the branch hanging above. She looked down on everybody with a beautiful smile on her lips.
There were so many people jumping around the big rock. Quite a few tried out their parkour tricks and there were even some people conferencing near the challenge location, each participant with eagerness and seriousness on their faces.
They looked like some earnest and dependable people and this prompted the young man in the black jacket to approach them.
"The test is so difficult. It's like the administrator is purposely eliminating the old and the weak." The old man following the young man made sobbing noises. "Wwuuuuu! This is unfair. Tell me, kiddo Ley! How do I survive!?"
"You think I know? I'm not even sure if I could make it through. And why the heck are you following me?" The young man called kiddo Ley didn't hide his displeasure through his tone.
"Even the seventy-seven years old me can't grasp the logic of this test. Tell me, do I have to start praying now for my soul and then create some sort of last and testament?"
"Yeah, you should. You will need paper and a pen. Go look for some now. In short, please separate from me so you can write your will."
In one corner of Leyte Baler's eyes, he saw a horse-headed bony creature heading towards the congregation. He stopped walking when the Werehorse arrived in the middle of those people. It neighed savagely and furiously stomped its hooves, acting as if it found a nice toy to step on. The people around became violent and started throwing punches on the Werehorse which had appeared suddenly in their midst.
"Hey, we should not go there. Those people are crazy as if a precious treasure was broken by that ugly horse. Eh? The Werehorse disappeared just when the punch was about to land! So mysterious! So fast!" The old man's jaw reached the ground. His eyes seemed to witness the creature bolting pass him.
Leyte observed the group. Ignoring their angry faces, he found something odd. When he looked closely, eh? It was like they were oddly missing some clothing on them?
The noisy old man pointed at someone. "So hateful! Those ugly horses are taunting the parkour experts who fell from the rock! Really without morals. Hey, Ley, look! That person is so courageous! Actually talking with another werehorse!"
Leyte's interest was caught. He turned his head to that direction and there was really a muscular man there, who looked like he's picking a fight with the creature.
"Asking for death? Or negotiating about something?" he asked.
The old gave him a toothless grin and remained like that for a few minutes, he didn't know the answer. Ley sighed. The old man was useless baggage for him. Many women and children bawling and crying appeared in his sight when he moved his gaze away from the other party. This old man was only a bit better than them.
"Right now, everyone's a mess. There were people pretending to hold a serious discussion but actually just tying ripped strips of clothing to make a long rope." He said after realizing what the earlier group was doing. It seemed some clothes got trashed and destroyed by that creature which made them angry.
Leyte resumed watching the courageous burly man still trying to talk with the horse-headed creature. He frowned when they appeared to reach the point of dueling, and then laughed speechlessly when the burly man finally showed signs of aggression. The man tried to snatch the werehorse's long whip. Now what? Planning to rob all the werehorses of their whips and then make a long rope out of those?
"Obviously, everyone's already crazy."
Up above, the goddess laughed and laughed at those who tried to climb the rock. The young man felt like cursing. He realized that even this world's goddess was pretty crazy.
Honestly, he felt like giving up. More than everyone here, he was most afraid of getting stomped to death within the human stampede. He wondered why things turned out like this and then concluded that the biggest mystery was still their lack of memories which in turn limited their understanding of the situation.
For him, arriving in a desolate world in the middle of a march without knowing how and why was what he really wanted to uncover.
Why did they have to march and follow the goddess' words? It was simply because they have nothing else to do or follow. Another problem was how the goddess claimed it was a matter of survival.
Most probably people are thinking survival comes first before anything else.
His eyes darted everywhere before stopping at the wall-like surface of the rock. The rock's name escaped his lips, chanted repeatedly. The name Liyang sounded familiar to him. It was like he had read about this rock before... He frowned, where could he read it? And how come he had memories of it?
"Kiddo Ley," the old man called out. However, Leyte ignored him.
That time he discovered two girls in high school uniform arguing near the stone. A while later, one of the girls pushed the other causing that other girl to slip and fall with her back colliding on the rock's surface. Leyte's eyes widened up in fear as he watched the girl who slipped suddenly turning into a skeleton. The girl who did the pushing fell on her buttocks, screaming in fear. She never expected her friend to become like that just because she landed on the rock.
That girl kept on shaking her head, backing away and screaming some words of denial. "N-no, i-it's n-not on purpose. S-sorry! H-hana, s-sorry!"
Leyte was not the only one who saw that scene. They held their breath when the girl who was still busy screaming and crying unknowingly backed away to the rock. They saw her elbow connecting with the hard surface. Then after a second she suddenly disappeared. This time the ones who witnessed were who screamed in fear.
Leyte found himself unable to breathe. The werehorses cheered for some unknown reason while the goddess exclaimed, "Passed!"
What? Somebody made it through? Just like that?
Quite a while passed before reality drilled into them. Everybody quieted down. Until a brave young girl ran forward to touch the Liyang. Her mother chased after her fearfully. However, the mother was already late because when she caught her child, the young girl had already touched the rock. The mother tearfully hugged her daughter but she found out the child already disappeared. Grief-stricken, the mother ran headfirst to the wall of rock, and then after a second, she turned into a set of bones.
"Haha, so nice. The passers increased in number."
An hour later, Leyte no longer knew how it came to be, but after they discovered the correct way to pass through Liyang, the place turned more chaotic. They discovered a pattern wherein every person in odd vanished but those in even turned into skeletons. This became the root of chaos. Nobody wanted to come after the person who had truly 'passed'. Now everyone else appeared like madmen as they pushed people around and do all sorts of things to ensure they don't come as one of the evens.
The old man stayed with Ley at the back. He kept on criticizing everyone as he commented on human principles and morality. The young man stood there rooted on his spot as he watched how one could actually blackmail a weak woman by holding her son hostage in order to push her to be one of the evens. He saw how a man could beat up a weak old lady and throw her towards the rock before colliding with the rock himself.
The old man was still rambling incessantly beside him when Leyte finally spoke, "Something's wrong here..."
***The old man roared in anger. "Obviously! Can't you see how people are trampling the others just to make sure they don't become skeletons!? And you only said now that something is wrong! Everyone's moral character is wrong!"Actually, Leyte was also quite scared by what he was seeing. It was just that when he saw something that was not matching up with his common sense, he somehow calmed down and started to ponder.He once again said, "Something is really wrong.""You!" The old man next to him stared at Ley as if he was a hopeless nutcase."When that person was beaten up, there's no blood or bruise. However, she's one of the odds.""Huh?""There are also people in evens that got punched and beat up but they bled. And they are those who turned into skeletons.""Young kiddo, what are you saying?"Leyte shook his head in dismay. He also didn't get it.A thought crossed his mind, "Is ensuring you don't turn into a
***People's reaction to the revelation was normal. None of them were aware of their actual status at first.Majority cursed and made scenes, showing through their actions how hard it was to accept that they have already died. Some cried and once again, it was normal. No one would be able to easily accept the truth, even if it was true that time was always kind to people and could help heal the pain and confusion.One month passed since then. Everybody had gone through what Goddess Anda called Ritual of the Dead. They passed through a gigantic rock, etched their names on some trees, danced the day away to 'shake off their sins', and then underwent Anda's judgment. The judgment referred to the normal segregation of good and bad people.Leyte was neither a saint nor a criminal so he was quite conflicted as he waited for his turn. Fortunately, he was still sent to The Stairway to Heaven. The goddess termed it Dunkituhan but since the word is so foreign and t
***While the young man was lost in nostalgia, Kylie continued explaining to them. "Actually, not all people reincarnate on Earth. Apart from those who stay in the Underworld, there are actually some who become similar angels and are sent above. The village chief said it's because those people are like saints...""Angels exist?" The old man muttered internally, complaining, 'Why am I not selected?'The girl hesitated. "I'm not sure if they are really angels, but according to the souls I've talked to before, some souls did go above, to the heaven which our Goddess Anda called Skyworld."She paused and then acted as if she remembered something. "Among them, there are some popular people or devotees who ascended to that place. The village chief said they are Idols, Deities of The Land, or Anitos.""... I remember that one of the oldies here said President Marcos turned into an Anito and is now living in that world. Others were figures like Dr. Jose Ri
***When Ley said to his village chief that he wanted to get reincarnated, he expected the elder to ask a few questions about his request and then explain how it would be processed before sending him off. However, in reality, the other party only remained silent. After a while, Leyte was feeling a little bit uncomfortable."Village Chief," he called out.No one answer came. The older guy was only giving him a weird look."Kiddo Ley..." It was the old man who suddenly appeared behind the young man.Leyte Baler stayed on the spot, frowning at the chief's lack of response. From outside, consecutive bell tolls suddenly rang and the people inside the two-story stone house rushed out to see what was going on.Although puzzled, Leyte Baler and the old man followed the chief outside. What greeted them was still the never-changing gloomy skies, with the addition of the bell tolls which heightened the eeriness of the place."Is there any event?
***Within a village nearest to the peak, two women faced off. An encirclement of curious villagers and gossipmongers watched them with unblinking eyes, some of them discussing why a confrontation arose while others marveled at their beauty. Yes, both women dressed in long skirts and traditional shirts were beauties rarely seen in the Underworld. Many curious boys even said that they were not in any way inferior to Goddess Anda in terms of beauty."Ay, the two argued about who is more beautiful,” speculated a bystander."No, I think I heard them quarreling for a guy. Maybe they know each other from the other world and are in love with the same man. However, one of them ended up the real lover while the other one became the trying-hard mistress.""Wrong. The other one is not even a mistress. She is a mere villainess getting in the way of two lovebirds. I think the reason they are both dead and transported into our current world is that the mist
***"P-please help me." cried the girl he remembered to be the first to arrive in Mount Balatukan. She was the schoolgirl from before who was pushed to the rock by her friend.Ley only blanked out for a few seconds before he decided to help. He was neither a saint nor a lawbreaker. However, he was not that heartless to ignore a helpless girl's plea and let her fend by herself.He squatted down to carry the girl, then he asked, "Would it be alright if we jump down the cliff? I'm afraid it’s the only way to reach the forest faster."He saw the little girl hesitated. It was a normal reaction considering that most people hate the pain and fear heights. Ley tried to explain further. "Don't worry, I won't abandon you. If we jump, we would surely get hurt. But at least we would be able to escape from here. The goddesses are both fierce and merciless. They don't care how many people will be caught in their battle. We have no time to dilly-dally. I'll carry
***Skyworld. In a brightly lit palace on one of the highest mountain peaks of the Great West Empire.A woman whose head was adorned with an exaggeratedly decorated crown gazed at the person who requested an audience with her."Your Highness," greeted the man whose features resembled an elf. In the Skyworld, people like him were called Forest Fairies. He had a natural good-looking face and tall built, his ears long and pointed. The visit of this forest fairy happened a day after the battle between Mayari of the Skyworld and Anda of the Underworld."You came to remind me of your goddess' condition?" The beautiful, ethereal-looking woman seated on the throne had an intelligent pair of eyes that could glimpse into a person's intention before they could even voice out.Watching the slight shock on the visitor's face, she indifferently said, "Just a reminder. I've already won the bet so the Authority of Light is now mine.
***Leyte could still remember the uncomfortable feeling and the suffocating fear that swallowed his whole person as he fell from a high place. It was simply awful. Terrible…. For he knew not if there was something to fall to… or if he would still be in one piece once he landed at the bottom.Now he wanted to question his decision, whether jumping off a cliff was really a good idea. It was simply one of the most horrific experiences he had had where he could not even control his own imagination. Never did he expect that closing his eyes would not help at all.The most damnable part was how his imagination almost never left the negative side!‘I’m in a soul state, I won’t die…. Right?’ Even he had begun to doubt his own survival due to the unending jump.Then when he felt like his body would be finally reaching the ground, his consciousness suddenly slipped into the darkness… as if he was being forced to sleep or fall into brief oblivion. This seemed to be proving his conjecture about h