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."
"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 set of bones the condition for passing?" However, he immediately shook his head because he thought, if it's not, then what? He smiled bitterly as he realized he's been thinking too much about it.
The old man creased his forehead in annoyance. Leyte was quite dumbfounded when he saw the grandpa striding towards the rock. He asked himself if the old man has gone senile but he made no action to stop him. He also actually walked after him, thinking he had already observed enough.
"Make way! Let me through!" Said the old man overbearingly. When he touched the stone, Ley saw him turn into skeletons. People clamored to go next. Leyte ignored them and just silently touched the stone himself with eyes closed.
His heartbeat was so fast, he suddenly remembered what was wrong... Those people who tried to climb up from the edge of the rock were not affected. The first person who touched the base of the stone should be that school girl who was the first to become a set of bones, right?
Why was that so... when she should be the very first 'odd'?
Leyte was currently feeling afraid because he had already touched the rock. Yet he was scared to open his eyes to see what happened. Almost a minute already passed and a feeling of jubilation rose from his chest when he made out that he still could feel his senses working.
So he passed? Just like that?
His eyes opened, Leyte later on blinked and confirmed he was not dreaming. He was now at the other side of the rock, freely feasting his eyes on the wonders of nature in the forest before him. So he really passed through a rock...
The young man subconsciously looked down at his pair of hands and inspected his whole body. After that, his eyes went to every direction and saw people who appeared lost somewhere or dumbfounded. The old man was also present.
Now, everyone was slowly figuring out the simple truth.
"Haha, congratulations on passing. Thankfully, no one really got stuck to that side which means nobody will be victimized by the dead plains tonight." Anda's voice made way into their ears.
Leyte looked up and just as he expected, the branch where Anda was sitting slowly shifted to their side.
"Congratulations once again. Celebrate your passing by engraving your names on the trees near you. Only after that will each and every one of you be officially recognized as citizens of the Sacred Mountain."
Leyte composed himself, gathered his courage and then raised his hands to ask.
"...Is this place... really Mount Balatukan?"
Anda raised a brow at him. "Yes, it is. Are you doubting a Goddess' words?"
"I... think, I am remembering something about this." Said Leyte, massaging his forehead as bits of memories flashed by.
Anda motioned the branch to bring her nearer to the human youngster. She looked interested. It was not an every day opportunity to encounter a young man who would say he was remembering things related to the challenge. She told the people, "Actually since you all have now passed through the holy rock, you should be recovering your memories now. Young man, you said something interesting. Why not let me hear it?"
Leyte frowned. He was quite intimidated by the goddess' aura so he backed away a little. He hesitated a little but still went on. "It's messy. But it was about a ritual... First, pass through a rock called Liyang to reach the forest."
"Then, engrave your name on the Tree of Life." He glanced up and down the nearest tree he saw and pondered.
"Go ahead." This time the goddess showed rare laughter which resembled that of a mischievous child whose prank got uncovered.
He obediently continued, "...Dance in Pinagsayawan, a place that lies beyond the sea of trees, to shake off all the bad things and sins from the body. I, just read this on an article about our ancestors."
This time, the goddess Anda truly beamed and laughed hysterically. Her actions frightened most people below her. Ley's heart was beating erratically. The old man and the other people around were giving her questioning glances.
When Anda stopped laughing, she looked really pleased as if someone discovering her prank was really joyful. She stood up and smiled. "This is really surprising. It is very rare for someone to know the ritual."
Leyte bitterly whispered to himself, 'It's only because I can remember things now. Including that accident.'
"Well, allow me to introduce myself once again to clarify everything. My name is Anda Lapit, and I am the Goddess of Judgment. I'm here to guide and, of course, judge you all in this ritual. So from now on, please listen to my instructions carefully."
The goddess paused and laughed. "By the way, to every confused soul here, please don't be shocked."
When the people below heard the word 'soul', their faces darkened. They thought of a painful possibility but they immediately furiously shake off that idea.
Unfortunately, Anda refused to let them escape reality.
She smiled once again, and after a giggle, she enunciated word by word.
"Hehe. I'm sorry. But everyone here is dead... only existing as a soul... which obviously means all of you are already deceased people... and that all of you have already died. Later, you will be judged. Because this place is Kasakitan, in other words, the Underworld!"
***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
***Several minutes later, Hana returned and stood in front of him with her hands behind her back. "Grandpa Fernando is right next door. And I have many more things to explain to the two of you. Since he had also woken up and it would be more convenient if you two are in the same space when I explained, can you please come with me to his quarters?"Leyte nodded his head gently and said, "No objections here. I had many questions in my mind that need to be clarified.”He first drank the glass of water to quench his thirst. Then he finally agreed to her request and let Hana support him as they walked next door. During the short but laborious walk, he tried to ask some stuff, “Earlier, you mentioned Earth. I just would like to know, you mean our Earth, right?"“Yes.” She nodded and glanced at him. “It’s the one we are more used to.”“I see,” he said.‘So from spirits briefly staying in the Underworld, we got upgraded to Earth’s wandering ghost.’He went quiet for a moment as he contempla