It was the Skyrise Mountain Range, a place with hills grew far beyond one's sight, vanishing beyond the clouds and mists at the peak of sky. A verdant forest similarly grew within these ranges, filled with abundant greenery to naked eyes. If one peered from above, it would also seem that here was the true diving line between man and nature.
Joined to the wall that divided the mountain range was a series of paths leading into the cliffs, and a bridge that seemed to touch the heavens. It extended beyond the entire mountain range, as it similarly vanished across a sea of clouds to the distant horizon. Occasionally, one would see a few unique looking transportation machines connected to slot like compartment embedded into the ground, traversing the bridge with a few individuals inside.
Currently, a few individuals were making their way towards various stores, and few amongst them who were equipped with large bags and gears ventured towards the mountain range.
Evan was naturally amongst this last group; while he tried his best not to seem conspicuous, he couldn't help but draw a deal of attention from the travelers going the same direction. He was, after all, the youngest compared to them.
"Little brother... it's already noon, why are you headed to the mountains at this hour? Shouldn't you be getting ready for colleges around this time?" A strong looking middle-aged man said as he carried a huge backpack.
"Yeah, I thought it was strange, kid, what are you doing out at this time of the year? My son is about your age and is definitely about to enter college..." Another person said with a questioning look, on his shoulder was a pick.
After listening to a bundle of questions from a few more individuals, Evan shook his head and replied, "I'm headed in for a week to train my mind and spirit, you know like those old monks and cultivators in fantasy stories and eastern fiction novels. My family has a tradition that the young must accomplish to achieve true adulthood..."
"Ah..." The men and women exclaimed in surprise as they didn't think his reason would be so profound.
"I didn't think families had such a tradition; you must be from quite a large family..." The middle-aged man spoke in a bit more humbled tone.
Evan smiled at this and replied vaguely, "Something like that..."
The others nodded and no longer questioned him, carrying on with their discussions about the range.
"So, what do you think, leader? Will we find any this time?" A blacked haired woman in a hiking suit asked.
The man knitted his brows with a pondering expression before he spoke, "I suppose it all depends on luck; it's not every time those rocks grow. It's more than likely we'll only find the regular kind."
"Well, anything is better than nothing. We can still trade those in for a few bucks." Another person said.
Evan hearing their conversation, was a bit startled as he asked, "Are you speaking of some small black colored rocks?"
"Eh? You know about those things, young man?" The middle-aged man questioned in surprise. The others similarly exclaimed as they looked at him.
Evan frowned as he thought to himself, "These rocks are found at the edges of rifts, strange stones with unknown properties. Why would they collect these? Or rather, who wants them?"
As he couldn't find a solution, Evan spoke with a sad expression, "Yes, I hear there called Black Stone Crystals. I had no idea that these things profitable... you guys sure are lucky, sigh..."
"Hahaha!" The middle-aged man and the others laughed as they heard him, after a short while, the middle-aged man spoke.
"Kid, you shouldn't be so depressed, we only found out recently as well. You see, there's this group th..." The middle-aged man was about to say something, but it was at this time a voice sounded from behind them.
"Ah, would you look at that, we've already arrived at the passage." A person said.
"This guy..." Evan muttered in an annoyed tone as he heard this voice, he looked behind him and saw that the fellow from the train was still following behind him. It seemed that he didn't even want to bother hiding that fact any longer.
The man seemed to have sensed Evan's gaze; he fixed his glasses and smiled politely. Everyone who heard this looked ahead and saw that they were now at the dividing path, separating the mountain range from the city.
"Haha, we got a bit lost in our conversation, didn't we... let's go!" The middle-aged man said with a smile on his face.
"Yes, leader." The others replied.
Before the man moved, he reached in his pocket and threw a business card towards Evan. As he caught the card, Evan looked at the man who spoke while walking off into the mountains, "Kid, that's the card concerning the company, why not give them a call. You'll be sure to find out some pretty interesting things, take care now."
The stalker who trailed Evan looked at the middle-aged man in a cold light, his glasses seeming to vague shine for a bit.
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Evan paused to inspect the card; on its surface was a logo with the title 'RADA.' The moment Evan saw this name, he was stunned. He almost exclaimed out loud, but he managed to regain in on his mood as he spoke to himself, "The Rift Administration Department Agency, how could this be? Did they not only appear after the arrival of the Ascenders Rift? What's going on here? Wait... if it's like this, then certain speculations hold meaning, for why would someone like Alan, or a few mysterious others, be able to grow so strong so quickly."
As Evan thought to himself, he couldn't help but grow solemn as he muttered, "There are too many things that I don't know... too many unknown factors. I have a strong feeling that my last life was far from what I'd expected."
After thinking here, Evan shook his head and spoke, "I'll think about these things later..."
As he said this, he looked forward and noticed that the group had long since vanished. But what struck him as odd, was that his stalker as similarly disappeared along with them.
"Where did he go?" Evan muttered as a wary look came on his face.
However, even after carefully inspecting the surroundings, he saw no one. Evan shook his head and moved forward, crossing the path into the mountains as he spoke, "I don't know what his objectives are, he didn't seem to be a partner of that other guy who has long since vanished. It could even be that they've got special missions in the area and had to take separate paths. Maybe I was overthinking things, to assume that they were connected to Alan Lawson. Regardless of the purposes, what I do know is that one of them is a killer, I can't take any chances..."
As Evan spoke to here, he continued to walk for a reasonable distance, venturing into the forest region. Finally, he had left the sights of all nearby individuals.
As he reached here, Evan smirked and muttered, "If there's one thing I am slightly happy about despite being sent back in time. It's that I've only recently left prison, as such..."
Evan's sporting T-Shirt seemed to have become a size smaller as his previously someone meek body became a bit bulky. As he saw he somewhat muscular figure, he spoke again, "The hidden strength of my prison trained body is more than enough to handle most dangers. All that's left if keep my tracks covered in the case that bastard follows me again..."
Whoosh! Not long after, he nimbly dashed into the depths of the forest, moving the depths of the mountain range. Although he wasn't exaggeratedly fast, he was still comparable to a well-trained athletic runner capable of setting a few records.
Yet, the odd thing was that despite moving at such a speed, the ground remained the same, there were no massive footprints, no crushed twigs. As if his body had become weightless as he whooshed through the forest like a gliding leaf.
The sun slowly faded across the horizon, as noon descended into the dusk, before fading into the dark of night. Within a distant area of the mountain range, two sizeable wild animal corpses could be seen on the ground. The party of individuals from beforehand sat around a bonfire with pieces of skewered meat roasted by the flames.
"Haha, nothing beats and open doors meal." The middle-aged man said with a hearty laugh.
"Hehe, you're right, but you know there... are more fun things..." A woman said with a slightly suggestive tone.
The men hearing this smirked as they replied, "Haha, then we'll be counting on you to teach us later."
The middle-aged man made a knowing smile as he spoke, "You guys...sigh, just don't go overboard. This mountain is still dangerous; I am a bit worried about that kid."
A companion shook his head and spoke, "Leader, you shouldn't be. Plus, that kid didn't seem naive; he certainly wouldn't come here without a decent weapon at least."
"Indeed, he did seem pretty smart, so I can only assume that he knows what to do." The leader said to the council himself.
The companion then paused for a bit and looked at the leader and spoke, "Um... leader, did you think we should have to give him that card? Didn't that group said we shouldn't share their details with anyone?"
The leader was a bit surprised, but he smiled and replied, "Haha, don't worry. Besides, there was no one else around us; what could go wrong?"
The companion wiped his sweat and replied, "Ah, yes. I feel relieved..."
The leader was about to say something, but it was at this time they heard a few cracking noises from behind them.
"Who's there?!" The leader shouted while pointing his modified gun towards the dark.
Everyone who had also been laughing acted, reading their weapons as they looked in the same direction. Not long after, two lights appeared before everyone, a reddish glow that outlined the frame and lens of a glasses.
Soon, Evan's stalker had appeared, standing calmly in his refined suit but carrying a dark air due to the ominous lights shining on his face.
"You..." The leader was about to say something, but the stalker smirked and spoke, "Ah, dear me... you've gone and done it now. It's such a pity, today, you'll all have to take a step to the next world."
As he spoke, his figure began to make strange, grotesque noises as his body deformed. Soon, an odd irregular silhouette appeared, forcing the eyes of the middle-aged man and his party to opened wide in shock, then terror.
"Ah.....!" The pitiful cry of an individual sounded across this region silent and desolate mountain range, followed by the extinguishing of the previous bonfire, as the dark consumed all.